What is MatchMaker?

MatchMaker is the only national program dedicated to recruitment of mixed race bone marrow donors. The need for mixed race bone marrow donors is great because each year approximately 130,000 people are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases like leukemia and other blood cancers and it is estimated that at least 12,000 of these patients will not be cured without a bone marrow transplant (BMT).

What is a BMT?
A BMT is a “bone marrow transplant” in which a patient’s diseased or malfunctioning blood and immune system can be replaced by a new one that comes from cells collected from a volunteer living donor. These special cells can be taken from the donor’s bone marrow (which is collected during a procedure in the operating room) or from the donor’s blood stream (where the donor’s cells are collected by filtering the blood). In addition, these special blood forming cells can be obtained from the umbilical cord of a newborn baby right after delivery. Suitable donors are chosen based on matching certain blood proteins (often referred to as “tissue typing”) between the patient and donor. Since the factors that determine the “match” are genetically based, patients have the best chance of finding a donor within their biological family. However, only 25 – 30% of patients are able to find a related (family) donor. The rest of the patients must then rely on finding a donor that is unrelated to them; most likely to occur with someone of a similar genetic or racial background.

Why MatchMaker? BMT Donor Disparities
At present, approximately only 25% of those listed in the donor registry of the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP) are racial minorities, with mixed race people representing a mere 2% of the total. Thus the odds of a patient of any minority heritage, or combination of heritages, being able to find a BMT donor when needed are extremely small. The NMDP began operation in 1986. Since then, especially in the past decade, there have been increased recruitment efforts to diversify the unrelated donor pool and recruit donors of minority and mixed heritage. The percentage of registered minority group donors is currently similar to the proportion of each group in the national population. However, the number of minority and mixed ethnicity donors still needs to increase significantly in order to give any single patient from these backgrounds an equal chance to find a suitably matching donor. The situation is particularly critical for patients of mixed heritage, whose numbers in the US population are increasing rapidly. By diversifying the pool of potential donors, MatchMaker is working to ensure that all individuals in need of a life-saving transplant have a better chance at finding a matched donor.

MatchMaker was founded in 2001 by MAVIN interns after the family of a young mixed race Seattle girl with leukemia approached MAVIN to ask for help in trying to find a bone marrow donor for her. MatchMaker starting holding bone marrow donor recruitment drives in the Puget Sound region and then expanded nationally. It now works with local donor centers, recruitment groups and the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) to address the chronic shortage of multiracial donors on the NMDP registry.

Results & Current Activities
In partnership with college and community groups locally and across the country, MatchMaker conducts yearly Marrow-thons™ campaigns to recruit mixed race and other minority donors. To date, over 10,000 new donors have been added to the NMDP Registry as a result of this work, from which potential matches have been identified for dozens of patients. As of 2005, some 26% of donors recruited by MatchMaker are of mixed race backgrounds and 37 – 46% are minorities. This shows that targeted BMT donor recruitment can work. How You Can Help There are many ways that you can help MatchMaker help patients who are fighting for their lives:
Register to become a bone marrow donor if you meet age and health criteria • If you are pregnant, donate the blood from your baby’s umbilical cord after birth • Make a tax-deductible financial donation to support MAVIN Foundation • Get groups in your community to sponsor bone marrow donor recruitment drives • Help us spread the word!

For complete information on how to help in any or all of these ways, including for referrals to bone marrow donor drives and donor centers in your community, please contact: info@mavinfoundation.org or call (206) 622-7101.

MatchMaker website coming soon, please check back.

For more information:
Ph: 206 622 7101

Join Marrow-thon!
Become a part of MatchMaker's remarkably successful marrow donor recruitment and education initiative. Twice yearly, we work with campus and community organizations across the country to conduct bond marrow drives. To get involved, email MatchMaker.

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Awards & Accolades
MatchMaker is the recipient of the 2002 "Heroes of Health Care Award for Innovation" from the Washington Health Foundation, and was runner-up for the 2003 Peter F. Drucker Nonprofit Innovation Award.

MatchMaker helped persuade Washington Governor Gary Locke to sign Executive Order 03-02 in 2002, which mandated paid leave for all state employees who donate blood, marrow or organs.