Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Help, I've Cut Myself & I Want to Save a Life
March 6, 2012 2:53 PM   Subscribe

What would happen if you significantly dropped barriers to entry for bone marrow registration? Graham Douglas, a copy writer whose twin brother's life was saved by a bone marrow donation, had a brilliant idea that will do just that.

While teaching an advertising class, Douglas challenged his students to come up with an idea that would increase bone marrow registrants. The final product-- a blood swab kit to be packaged with bandaids.

Help Remedies, an innovative consumer pharma company with a quirky design aesthetic, signed on to manufacture and distribute the product in partnership with DKMS, the world's largest bone marrow registry. Customers also have the option to skip the sharp objects and register directly at getswabbed.org.
posted by charmcityblues (32 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I registered for free with spit at BeTheMatch.org. Still, a clever idea. I guess that the problem is more people don't think to volunteer.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:02 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anything that increases the number of potential bone marrow donors is a positive thing. Its so challenging finding matches and it truly is a matter of life or death for the people who need transplants.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:05 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Nice, clever idea.

You could also pay people to donate marrow, as is done with blood donations.

See: Bone-Headed on Bone Marrow
posted by BobbyVan at 3:09 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


The old-style way of collecting marrow was to jab a giant needle into your thigh bone and aspirate (suck up). Several times.

These days, a good dose of G-CSF mobilizes marrow-resident haematopoietic stem cells and you sit in a machine as it suck blood out of you, isolates the good stem cells (usually density gradient centrifugation), and puts everything else back into you. Very little pain. It's been a while, but some of the early trials showed that G-CSF mobilized HSC was associated with less graft-versus host. For autologous stem cell harvesting and transplantation, this isn't an issue, but it seems like they engraft and start spitting out blood cells, red and white, as well (good) as marrow-derived HSCs.
posted by porpoise at 3:10 PM on March 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


How long is marrow viable outside the body? I thought the issue was that marrow is too perishable for a bank and calls for a match , making it not really something you could pay for like blood unless there were maybe an auction.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:17 PM on March 6, 2012


You could also pay people to donate marrow, as is done with blood donations.

Well, in the US, at least, selling blood donation (for human use) is not permitted. People can sell blood for research. But not for transfusion.
posted by bilabial at 3:29 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would just like to state yet one more time ftr that if you are a minority and are not participating in the bone marrow database, you are doing a grave fucking disservice to every single other person like you on earth.
posted by elizardbits at 3:31 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I registered for free with spit at BeTheMatch.org

Thanks for the link. Just signed up.
posted by yerfatma at 3:33 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Getting gay-married is going to be great and all, but I would love to donate some marrow and blood.
posted by munchingzombie at 3:43 PM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


I would but no gay men allowed.
posted by Garm at 3:53 PM on March 6, 2012


you sit in a machine as it suckS blood out of you, isolates the good stem cells (usually density gradient centrifugation), and puts everything else back into you. Very little pain.

Good to know. When you write the procedure out like that, it still sounds scary, though.

Please tell me that at least they named the machine that does this the Thoreau.
posted by misha at 4:05 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Getting gay-married is going to be great and all, but I would love to donate some marrow and blood.

I have a coworker who had a child who needed a transplant and he canvassed people in our lab to donate. As he is also a good friend, I really felt like shit having to figure out how to explain why I couldn't donate, without painting myself as a diseased AIDS-cancer-junkie-orgy attendant. Then I reminded myself that the bigotry ingrained in the system wasn't my fault and I just let it go.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:18 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is clever, but as someone who is Chaotic Evil I'm not in the target market.
posted by grobstein at 4:18 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's brilliant. I'm looking forward to a future where this sort of bonus function is incorporated into a lot more every day things.
posted by lucidium at 4:43 PM on March 6, 2012


no gay men allowed.

Why is this? I read the FDA and BTM pages but I can't figure out why you would screen out a being put in the registry? I can barely understand the reasoning behind not collecting blood, but just becoming a number in a database? Even if you do end up being HIV positive, that's something that can be tested for later if you do happen to match, and removed if you do test positive. Sure, you might end up costing someone time and money, but as potential recipients I would want the pool to be as large as possible, even if some of those end up being false positives

Shouldn't this just be a numbers thing?
posted by thewumpusisdead at 4:47 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't donate because I used to live in England.

No, really.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:12 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I guess that actually makes me feel better, since I assume they are purely running on statistics to figure out whether including a population in the database is worth the cost/reward ratio. But I guess this also means they could probably use more money so that they can take on more 'costly' populations.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 5:44 PM on March 6, 2012


In the US, individuals can become living organ and tissue donors regardless of sexual orientation. For some reason, that makes me feel really good inside, where my organs are located.
posted by Nomyte at 6:17 PM on March 6, 2012


I'm registered as a donor. Signed up while in the Navy. Some years back I was contacted because I was a match for a baby boy.

Then they asked me if I'd ever had sex with men. I honestly responded that I'd been in a monogamous relationship for several years with another man. I'm perfectly healthy with no diseases or issues.

I'm just gonna assume they found another match, cause they never called me back after that. I mean, I'm sure the baby lived... right?
posted by matty at 7:14 PM on March 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


I work for the Red Cross and these machines and pass by these machines all the time. The people in them are laying down relaxing, reading a book or doing a crossword. Because they are giving a premium product they get premium service with more comfortable beds, blankets, and a TV. It is pretty sweet, everyone should do it.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:47 PM on March 6, 2012


Just registered at BeTheMatch. Years ago a doctor told me my Hashimoto's disqualified me, but either he was wrong or the rules have changed; anyway, here's hoping my stone-soup mixed background will be of use to someone.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:48 PM on March 6, 2012


misha - "Good to know. When you write the procedure out like that, it still sounds scary, though."

Sorry, I thought that in comparison with having a giant needle jabbed into your thigh bone, having it wiggle aroung, and then having that repeated a couple/three times; being in a machine for a few hours (you're mobile enough to read! =) ) is preferable.

I'm very very sorry if machines and restraint and needles are triggers for you. I completely fluffed my point that one major barrier to "bone marrow" donation (they need to find a sexier acronym than HSC [haematopoeitic stem cells, presumably from marrow] or PBHSC [peripheral blood haematopoietic cells, presumably from mobilized peripheral blood], is that historically its been a very painful process. These days? No excuse.

As for banks, it might make sense now that the usefullness of mobilized HSC are good. There are a few umbilical cord stem cell banks, some for profit, some nationalized... maybe learn from their mistakes.

As for physical reasons against banks, its hard to freeze down primary mammalian cells; the survival rate is still pretty aweful. The apparent rate for stem cells is better, usually *much* better, but not good enough fir clinical/therapeutical purposes. Yet. As far as I've bothered to verify, or not.
posted by porpoise at 8:52 PM on March 6, 2012


Porpoise, I got your point that the pain is minimal, and I hope I didn't come across as flippant. I do have a bit of a claustrophobic thing (MRIs freak me right out; I have to be sedated), but I think it's fantastic that they've found a less painful solution to encourage blood marrow donation.
posted by misha at 9:42 PM on March 6, 2012


Just signed up! Between reading about hollow needles in pelvic bones and that spider post, I am now thoroughly squicked out just in time for bed. (No idea why - I have no problem giving blood and I used to have a pet tarantula. But eeeekk.)
posted by artychoke at 10:26 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I registered years ago when a friend's wealthy brother was fighting cancer and hosted and paid for a registration event. The test for each registrant was expensive. No one from that event was a match but he did find a donor eventually and is still alive today several decades later. Anything that can be done to enlarge the pool of registrants can save lives. Also, those already registered can help by keeping your contact information up to date so that if you are a match they can actually find you. I cannot imagine how wonderful it would feel to be the donor who saved someone else's life. Maybe someday....
posted by caddis at 3:36 AM on March 7, 2012


I can't donate because I used to live in England.

I can't donate blood because not only did I live in Scotland, but I frequently travel to malaria zones, and I've dated women born in sub-saharan Africa. I've never lived somewhere where at least one of those things did not disqualify me.
posted by atrazine at 3:53 AM on March 7, 2012


I have been in the registry since the mid 90s and I have been called about getting further testing twice. I still haven't gone as far as donation, though.
posted by jefeweiss at 4:32 AM on March 7, 2012


Porpoise: that's good to know --- I've been in the marrow registry for years now; I always figured I would actually do it if called, on the theory that some pain for me is better than possible death for someone else, but the whole idea of a giant needle stuck in a bone has always scared me spitless. This new procedure doesn't sound a whole lot worse that platelet donation, and I've done that a few dozen times.

I was called in for further testing once, but somebody else turned out to be just a little bit better of a match.
posted by easily confused at 5:09 AM on March 7, 2012


The website says clearly that needle-in-the-hip is still a possibility. I could sign up if it was the blood thing, but needles-in-hip makes me so faint that I saw black spots in front of my eyes just reading it. I know that's lame but I honestly don't think I could go through with that surgery. Which makes me feel awful.
posted by agregoli at 6:47 AM on March 7, 2012


agreoli, it's probably better that, having considered your likely reaction to a marrow withdrawal, at least you aren't risking getting a matching person's hopes up only to dash them --- imagine how awful it would be to hear a donor say 'nope, never mind, I don't feel like helping you after all!'
posted by easily confused at 8:00 AM on March 7, 2012


Can I donate to another gay person?
posted by Theta States at 8:28 AM on March 7, 2012


Thanks for this post. It reminded me to register again at onematch.ca (now that I have my health card).
posted by papafrita at 10:17 AM on March 7, 2012


« Older Featuring nearly 300 penguins, San Diego's Penguin...  |  Yet another reason to live in ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments