While joining the registry is free for those under 45, older adults (up to age 60) are required to pay a $100 fee and can only register online. Anyone who cannot attend tomorrow can also register on the Be the Match website.
So what happens when someone is found to be a match for a patient?
As long as a potential donor agrees, more testing will be done to confirm the match. The donor will then either be asked to give bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells, depending on what treatment the doctor has determined is best for the patient.
Donating bone marrow is a surgical procedure done under anesthesia. Needles are used to draw liquid marrow out of the pelvic bone. Most donors go home the same day or the next morning.
Extracting stem cells is an outpatient process in which blood is removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood-forming cells. The blood is then returned through the other arm.
About 1 in 540 U.S. Be the Match Registry members go on to donate bone marrow or stem cells to a patient. For more information on either process, visit www.bethematch.org.
While she waits for a donor, Sheehan has been doing her best to remain upbeat and says that her family has been a huge help.
“They’ve been amazing,” she said. “We have our days, but we’re very open with everybody. I think it’s important to be that way with your kids. They’re very much involved.”
She has also received an outpouring of support from the co-workers at both her jobs, as well as from the community.
“People have been amazingly generous with their prayers and everything,” she said. “We’ve had an amazing experience just with people reaching out and wanting to help. We feel fortunate to be in such a great community.”