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Be The Match: Joining the Marrow Registry

It’s something most people don’t think about until they personally know someone who has needed it – but families who have been through it can tell you, marrow transplants can mean new life for someone diagnosed with life-threatening blood cancers. Ann, a Health Unit Coordinator at PHS, will be the first to tell you how life changing it was to find a marrow donor for her son, Caleb.

Caleb’s Story

Caleb2“Caleb was diagnosed with Familial Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis when he was 19 months old, after 10 long months of unexplained fevers and other symptoms. On the day he was diagnosed, we were told that his only chance of survival was a bone marrow transplant and that it needed to happen very quickly.

“Our daughter (who had just turned 5 three days earlier) was tested that very day to see if she was a possible donor. Once we learned that she was not (there is less than a 25% chance that a sibling will be a compatible donor), Be The Match started their search.

“We learned that a match had been found a few weeks later and that they had said “Yes”! We knew nothing other than that about the donor at that point and Caleb had his bone marrow transplant on August 25th, 2010 (less than 3 months after he was diagnosed).


“We kept in contact with Caleb’s donor via written letters. These letters had to be very vague and were screened by the National Marrow Donor Program, so as to not give out any personal information (no names, locations, etc.). After one year, we were able to contact each other. Her name is Missy, and she is married with a little boy and another on the way now! We met for the first time on August 25th, 2012, when they flew to Minnesota!”

Caleb is now 5 years old and celebrates his ReBirthday (complete with a marrow donor drive) each year to remember the day of his transplant, thanks to Be The Match. You can see a feature CBS did on his 3 ReBirthday here!


Be The Match has worked to build the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world, reminding individuals that joining the registry and potentially being a match for patient in need is easy as completing a registration form and giving a cheek swab to be tissue-typed.

Donor registry drives happen regularly in a variety of areas – you can search within your area. Be The Match and the Gopher Football team are partnering up to host a marrow drive on April 15 to present The More, The Marrower at Coffman Hall – they promise a quick, painless, highly impactful experience! According to the Be The Match website, about 1 in 500 members will go on to donate marrow.

Are you a member of the registry? Do you have a personal experience with someone receiving a marrow transplant? Share the story here!

Originally published: April 11, 2014

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