bone marrow

Swab Your Cheek, Save a Life



My dad, doing the cheek swab.

In the past month or so, we’ve been talking a lot about bone marrow donation after the unthinkable happened: 2-year-old Ayelet Galena died from a bone marrow disease. Jordana Horn wrote a beautiful piece about the call to action this tragedy spurred on, expressing how important it was for all of us to join the registry of marrow donors, to not let this happen again. After I read her piece, I clicked on over to the registry website, looked around, thought about signing up, but just… didn’t.

Until a couple of days later, when I found out my own cousin needed a bone marrow donor.

My cousin, Marc, is a father of four–his youngest son just turned 1. He is suffering from a rare, agressive form of Lymphoma, and desperately needs to find a match to survive. You can get more information on his Facebook page, and please, if you are so inclined, share the page and spread the word.

You can sign up for the blood marrow registry at Be the Match or Gift of Life. Once you fill out a couple of questions to make sure you qualify, they will send you a cheek swab kit in the mail. All you have to do is swab your cheek four times (kind of like brushing your teeth with a Q-tip), and you send it back to them. That’s it. They even pay for the postage. I did it on a Sunday afternoon during a commercial break. You can also donate money to the registries, as the price for them to process each kit is $100.

To be honest, I’m embarrassed that I only acted on this when someone I personally knew needed help. There are so many people out there who are searching for their matches, and who deserve to find one. So really, can we all just take this simple step? Please? All you have to lose is about 10 seconds of quality cheek swabbing time, and all you have to gain is the potential to save a boy, a girl, a mother, a father, a human life.

Molly TolskyMolly Tolsky is the editor of Kveller.com. She holds an MFA in Fiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has appeared in various literary magazines including Lumina, MAKE, and The Collagist, and her non-fiction has appeared in The Jewish Daily Forward. She isn't a parent, but a very proud aunt. Follow her @mollytolsky.

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