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Be The Match – Save Lives

Social media platforms are changing the way we do business and are providing cost-effective and efficient ways for organizations to reach new and diverse audiences.   I spoke with Jennifer Goodman, Account Executive for Be The Match in Jacksonville, Fla. to discuss some of the ways in which non-profit organizations are benefitting from the use of social media to reach a richer, more diverse audience.

AD: What is Be The Match, and what do you do for the organization?

JG:  First off, I really hate people thinking I’m a dating service.  Be The Match is the name for the National Bone Marrow Registry.  My job is to recruit new potential donors to the Registry and to fundraise to support that.  It costs us about $100 every time we add a potential donor to the Registry.  The hardest part about my job is overcoming people’s misconceptions about what they think they know about bone marrow donation.

A bone marrow transplant is a treatment option for over 80 diseases; most notably, leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell anemia.  Most people who have seen any recent movies or t.v. shows think we’re going to take their bones, or drill into their spines with no anesthesia, or that it’s just extremely painful.  The truth is, it’s just not.  The technology has improved so much that that’s just not the case anymore.  In fact, at the Mayo Clinic here in Jacksonville, one of our lead bone marrow transplant surgeons states that over 90% of the time apheresis is used for the collection process to get the stem cells used for the transplant.

AD: What is apheresis exactly?

JG: Apheresis is essentially the same process  you go through when you give blood.  At the Mayo Clinic, you’re sat  on a comfortable bed and you watch a flat screen t.v. while blood is taken from one arm, spun in a centrifuge, and returned back into the other arm.  The whole process from start to finish usually takes a couple of hours and they can take what they need from that blood to save somebody’s life.

AD: Do they still do use the old methods of extracting bone marrow that most people envision when they think about donation?

JG: At the Mayo Clinic, they do still conduct bone marrow harvest about 5 – 10 % of the time, however the technology has advanced to the point that it is NOT what you think.  In fact, you’re given anesthesia, it’s outpatient, and you leave with a BandAid. Some people say that they feel like they worked out hard, especially in the hip area, but it’s a small price to pay for saving a life.  Especially since a lot of the recipients are children suffering with sickle cell, strokes, or even being in medically-induced comas awaiting the transplant.  One of the really cool things about being a bone marrow donor is that after a one year waiting period you have the opportunity  to meet your transplant recipient. Most people say it’s a life-changing experience.

AD: In what ways are Be The Match and you specifically using social media to connect with people?

Be The Match has its own YouTube Channel that shares donor recipient meetings and information about the donation process.  You can also hear from some of our celebrity spokespeople like Shaquille O’Neal and T-Boz that really aim to connect with people in specific ethnic groups like the African-American community and really express the need for donors in those communities. Finding a match is very closely related to your ethnicity.  You’re far more likely to find a match within your own ethnic group.  Right now African-Americans, much like other minority groups, are severely under-represented on the registry.

One of the great things about social media is I can connect with vast amounts of people and it’s totally free- and I’m pretty sure that our target demographic, which is college students, is not checking the newspaper every day.  Twitter is definitely a favorite because some of the schools and organizations that I partner with can repost tweets that might involve the same audience.  I also use Facebook to post pictures from events, because everybody loves to be in pictures and if you think there’s a possibility that you might be tagged in a picture there is a million times better chance that you might visit that Facebook page.  That does a lot of the work for me.  There are so many ways to help the organization, and social media makes it really easy to get involved and lets people determine their own level of engagement.

AD: How can people get involved with Be The Match?

JG: You can join the Registry if you’re between the ages of 18 and 60 and meet the health guidelines,  you can make a donation to help add new members to the Registry, or you can volunteer.

To get involved with Be The Match or for more information, contact Jennifer Goodman at jgoodma2@NMDP.org or (904) 254-0841, or follow her on Twitter: @BeTheMatchJax. 

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7 Comments

by | April 28, 2012 · 12:04 am