Be the Match® Drive Seeking Donors
Oct 18, 2022
William Newton Hospital, Family Care Center, and Hunter’s Heroes will host the second annual donor drive for the National Marrow Donor Program with both in-person and virtual options. Be The Match® is a national registry for blood stem cell and bone marrow donors.
A drive-up event will take place Wednesday, October 19 at Family Care Center from 7:00 am to 9:00 am. The first 100 participants will receive a fresh-baked cinnamon roll. At Community Night Out on Friday, October 21 at Island Park, William Newton Hospital will host a walk-up event at its booth from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
“The Be the Match® registry is an important component of helping people with leukemias and other bone marrow diseases such as thalassemia, lymphoma, and sickle cell disease,” says Dr. Bryan Dennett, a physician at Family Care Center in Winfield. “A simple swab of the cheek could be the beginning of bringing someone life-saving treatment.”
Dennett, who is currently in treatment himself for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), explains that bone marrow transplant matches are made based on similarities in genetics called HLA types. “Sometimes family members can be a match for bone marrow transplantation; however, sometimes family members do not have enough similar genetic compatibility to be a donor.”
Individuals between the ages of 18-40 and who meet certain health criteria can join the Be The Match® registry. Participants will answer a few questions and complete a quick cheek swab. The hospital and clinic will send swabs to Be The Match® for testing. Donors are then added to the registry to potentially be matched to a patient. Be The Match® then finds that one-in-a-million match and makes arrangements to connect the patient and donor.
“Donors with mixed ethnicity are especially important to the Be The Match® program. Minorities and people of mixed ethnicity are not as well represented in the registry as they should be and often have a difficult time finding an appropriate match,” explains Dennett.
Dennett’s firsthand experience with receiving his diagnosis reinforces the importance of keeping up with routine check-ups.
“I decided to have some blood work done as part of an annual physical. This revealed that my white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets were all low. This was puzzling to me since I did not feel the least bit sick. Most people would have been experiencing bruising or bleeding, night sweats, unexplained infections, or fevers.”
As a physician, Dennett says he has only seen his rare form of cancer a couple of times.
“This was like a lightning strike for me, and it was not apparent right away what the diagnosis was. There really was not anything I could have done to prevent this leukemia. I have taken very good care of my health by eating right and exercising regularly. However, sometimes these unexpected illnesses still happen.”
Dennett, who was diagnosed in August, recently completed a phase of protective isolation following treatment. He says he’s fortunate his solid foundation of good health has allowed him to take the next step of getting a bone marrow transplant.
“I have had two rounds of chemotherapy and several bone marrow biopsies. So far, the results have shown that I am in remission. With AML, people hardly ever stay in remission without a bone marrow transplant. Thankfully, I have a family member who is an appropriate match.”
Going through this experience as a patient and a physician, Dennett has a message for the community.
“Plan on getting regular checkups with your primary care provider. It’s helpful to have that physician-patient relationship established before a significant issue arises. Pay attention to new or unexpected symptoms. Sometimes it takes time to find out exactly what the problem is. I would encourage patients to be ready to collaborate with their family care provider and specialists.”
Dennett says he is hopeful for the future and wants to get back to seeing patients full-time as soon as possible. “Being a family doctor is the honor of a lifetime.”
The 2021 virtual donor drive hosted by William Newton Hospital and Hunter’s Heroes added three new donors to the registry.
“By expanding our collection options this year, it is our goal to add 150 donors to the national registry,” says Sarah Johnson, William Newton Hospital director of marketing, strategy, and communications. “Dr. Dennett cares for countless patients in our community with skill and compassion. In that same caring spirit, we encourage all who are able to get a quick cheek swab and say ‘yes’ to becoming a donor.”
In addition to the two in-person donor drives, a mail-in option is available. Simply register online, wait for your free kit to come in the mail, swab, and return it. Visit my.bethematch.org/winfield to get started.
Dr. Bryan DennettFamily Physician
Posted in In The News on Oct 18, 2022