That's how easy it is to join the National Marrow Donor Program Registery.

You go online, fill out some basic medical information, and offer tons of contact info. They mail you a kit with some swabs that will provide the first step to determining if you could match someone who needs bone marrow or peripherial blood cells.

Reading through the organization's FAQ, it doesn't sound like donating bone marrow is as painful and horrible as it was described in My Sister's Keeper, but that character was a small child. And that was fiction. Here's what marrow.org had to say:

A: Adult donors may be asked to donate in one of two ways:

Bone marrow donation is a surgical procedure in which liquid marrow is withdrawn from the back of the donor's pelvic bones using special, hollow needles. General or regional anesthesia is always used for this procedure, so donors feel no needle injections and no pain during marrow donation. Most donors feel some pain in their lower back for a few days afterwards.

Peripheral blood cell (PBSC) donation involves removing a donor's blood through a sterile needle in one arm. The blood is passed through a machine that separates out the cells used in transplants. The remaining blood is returned through the other arm.

Apparently, donating marrow is an outpatient procedure in which the patient can return to work within one to seven days. On average, all symptoms associated with the surgery disappear within 21 days.

It's a little more intensive than donating blood, but I figured it pales in comparison to the hope and relief the recipient and his or her family would feel.

I learned about the registery when my roommate wrote an article about a woman I talked with a few times in the circuit clerk's office at the courthouse. Her name also is Jill, and I kind of knew she was battling some blood-related disease, but I didn't realize that it was terminal or that she had reached the point where nothing else could be done but hoping for a donor.

I suppose her finding a match at this point is a long-shot, but long-shots sometimes happen. You can get the mail-in kit to join the registery here. The cost for processing a new registration is about $100 so they ask for a donation when you request the kit, but it's not mandatory.
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