Along with being two of the top leaders in the City of Boise, Mayor Dave Bieter and Fire Chief Dennis Doan have something very special in common: both have donated lifesaving bone marrow to people with cancer and other life-threatening medical conditions.
Mayor Bieter joined the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry in honor of a friend who died of cancer; he was on the registry for eight years before the call came.
Chief Doan joined when a battalion chief’s daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. He had been on the registry for 20 years when he learned he was the match for a little boy with a group of immune system disorders.
People who provide care for cancer patients at St. Luke’s understand all too well the need for bone marrow donors. Because only 30 percent of people in need of a bone marrow transplant have a matched donor within their family, 70 percent of these patients must place their hopes on people they have never met.
Meghan Cardoza, a nurse on St. Luke’s Boise inpatient cancer unit, said, “I have seen so many of our patients waiting for a bone marrow donor. I think of one patient in particular who died on the same day my oldest child was born. She waited and couldn’t find a match, and then it was too late. She was young, late 30s or early 40s. If more people are registered, the chances of finding a match are higher. I hate watching our patients wait when they are ready to move on to the next step.”
St. Luke’s staff discussed what they could do to give greater hope to people in need of a bone marrow transplant, and so they reached out to Be the Match, a non-profit organization whose registry provides doctors with access to 22.5 million potential donors worldwide. Plans for a bone marrow donor registry drive were made, and then coincidentally, the hope shone even brighter.
While attending the dedication ceremony for the Bloch Cancer Survivors Plaza at Julia Davis Park in November 2014, Sarah Swanson, a St. Luke’s social worker, listened as Mayor Bieter spoke about his experience as a bone marrow donor. Following the event, she and a colleague, nurse Amy Bacca, wondered about the possibility of somehow involving Mayor Bieter in the effort, and so they contacted St. Luke’s Community Relations Department for advice.
“We were excited to be asked for guidance on promoting this event,” said Theresa McLeod, director of Community Relations. “We were able to connect Sarah and Amy not only with the Mayor, but also with Fire Chief Dennis Doan. Both were thrilled to lend their support to this terrific cause.”
With the mayor and fire chief on board, a goal to register 500 people over two days was set.
In addition to hosting the event, St. Luke’s is contributing $5,000 to Be the Match. While there is no cost to join the registry, this contribution will fully underwrite Be the Match’s costs to process paper work and lab work for 50 new registry members. And KTVB Channel 7, which had followed the mayor and chief’s experiences as donors, was excited to help promote the registry drive.
KTVB promoted the drive on the evening news, and news anchor Mark Johnson dedicated the February 8, 2015 Viewpoint segment to the cause. He invited Sarah and Amy to discuss the critical need for more registry members, and talked with Mayor Bieter and Chief Doan about their experiences.
“We are so excited that Mayor Bieter and Chief Doan were willing to share their donor experiences,” said Swanson. “I can’t think of two leaders in our community with busier schedules than theirs, and yet they still took time out of their day to talk about the positive impact their donation experience has proven to be.”
Bacca added, “A huge thank you to KTVB for providing the platform to share their stories and promote the bone marrow donor registry event. Now St. Luke’s and Be the Match have the opportunity to save lives right here in our community!”
Learn more about why you should join the registry, and what it’s like to be a bone marrow donor. Watch Viewpoint by clicking here.
The City of Boise, St. Luke’s, and Be the Match have teamed up to provide the chance for hundreds more caring members of our community to register to be bone marrow donors! By signing up, one day YOU could be the match that brings hope to a child or adult with cancer or other life-threatening medical condition. It takes just a few minutes to complete some paperwork and take a couple of cheek swabs.
Dr. Dan Zuckerman, medical director at St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute, is on the bone marrow donor registry, and if you are between the ages of 18 and 44, he wants you to join as well. Here’s why:
“Being a bone marrow donor is critical. The more people we have in the National Marrow Donor Registry, the more people can be cured of difficult cancers like lymphoma and leukemia. The amazing thing is that every one of us has the potential to save a life – it’s just sitting there right inside you. You just have to register.”
To learn more about bone marrow donation and how you can help St. Luke’s to save lives, please visit Be the Match at http://snyp.us/gwpW.