A year ago, Amanda McCleon, 41, was diagnosed with a type of cancer known as multiple myeloma. Married with one son, Amanda says she has it all, except for the one thing that can save her life, a bone marrow transplant.
According to the National Bone Marrow Program, successful matches are most often found when the donor and recipient are of the same race. With more than 5 million people in need of transplants and only 8-percent of the willing donors African-American, this is not good news for patients like Amanda.
"This is a last resort. They've tried chemotherapy. They've tried other types of medicine. A bone marrow transplant is their last chance," says Mattie Coburn with the Mississippi Marrow Donor Program.
"My husband said that my doctor came in there and told him 'I've done all that I can do. I've truly done all I can do," says McCleon. "It said there's no way that nobody else can take care of my children and my family like me and that's why this means so much."
Like donated blood, bone marrow replenishes itself. Doctors say there are no long term effects from donating. In fact the procedure, which is free fro the donor, is often outpatient and involves one needle and requires no stitches. After the transplant, doctors say donors often experience some soreness and are advised to take it easy for about a week.
If you go to a bone marrow drive you'll likely be tested by the prick of a finger. However, if you go to a blood center or hospital, you will likely be tested by having blood drawn like when giving blood. I (Andrea) got tested and officials say if we're lucky we will find out soon if I'm a match. I'll keep you posted.
For more information on donating call 1-800-MARROW2.
"We need more people to say I have more faith than fear," says Coburn.
"This means so much to me. It means my family. It means my life!" says McCleon.