GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Stem cell transplants can be the difference between life and death for some cancer patients, so one local survivor is trying to find more donors in the Green Bay area to save lives worldwide.
Maria Grimm, is a cancer survivor and stem cell donation recipient, she said, “I was diagnosed in May of 2019 with T-cell lymphoma and they tried 8 different types of chemotherapy before they could try to get me close to getting a stem cell transplant.”
An anonymous stem cell donation made the difference in her cancer treatment.
“They swabbed a bunch of my different family members first and checked the registry and they were able to find a match through somebody in the united kingdom,” she said.
Maria said the stem cell donation was the only treatment that worked against her cancer and while it wasn’t an easy process for her it was worth it.
“I received the cells through an iv,” said Grimm. “So I sat there for about two hours receiving his cells and prior to that I received chemo therapy to basically wipe my body clean if you will and then receive his and then take the time to let it adjust to my body and kill any cancer cells.”
Be the Match representatives are hoping events like the one Maria hosted for her birthday help increase the amount of donors.
Jessica Klingberg, the Community Engagement Specialist for Be the Match said, “70% of patients that need these transplants do not have a match with in their own family and rely on international cooperatives of over 39 million registrants to step up and save their lives.”
Increasing the diversity of donors in the database is an important part of saving more lives.
“At the end of the day diversity matters in everything we do. Right now the registry is overwhelmingly Caucasian,” said Klingberg. “That doesn’t mean that people that are white have a perfect chance of finding a match, in fact that’s only 77%, but the range does exist, so if you happen to be black or African American or biracial that is much more difficult to find a match. That’s only about 23% likelihood of finding that match.”
Signing up to “Be the Match” is as easy, you can find more information on their website.