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Join bone marrow registry to potentially save life

September 19, 2016

By Michelle Manchir

Denver — Qualified dental professionals can register as potentially life-saving bone marrow donors and learn how to offer their patients the same opportunity at ADA 2016 – America's Dental Meeting.

DKMS We Delete Blood Cancer, an international nonprofit that works with the world's largest network of bone marrow donor centers, will have a table at the ADA 2016 Member Success Center where attendees can, in only a few minutes, register as potential bone marrow donors, which involves some paperwork and a cheek swab.

The nonprofit also offers swab kits for dental offices, so that dentists and dental staff can easily register willing patients into the National Bone Marrow Registry.

ADA 2016 participants can learn more about this at the Member Success Center Booth, or by visiting DKMS.org/dental.

For many blood cancer patients, a bone marrow transplant is the best chance for survival, according to the DKMS We Delete Blood Cancer website.

"For people who are in need of a bone marrow donation, finding a match is the difference between living and dying," said Dr. Steven Conlon, of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

For Dr. Conlon, the issue is personal. His father-in-law, Dr. George Thomas Bowles, died about 10 years ago of acute myelogenous leukemia, not living long enough to get a transplant.

Since that time, Dr. Conlon — along with one of his patients, Joel Carter, a leukemia survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient — launched a statewide bone marrow drive along with the Michigan Dental Association and DKMS We Delete Blood Cancer.

The staff in his Grand Rapids office is also trained to discuss the registry with patients during their hygiene visits, and help them become part of the registry, if they wish.

"We've had really good luck with it," said Dr. Conlon, adding that the time it takes to discuss and administer cheek swabs is minimal.

In 2012, the ADA House of Delegates passed a resolution to help member dentists understand the importance of promoting bone marrow matching programs. Res. 162H-2012 states "that the ADA urges members to support participation in the bone marrow matching program by providing appropriate literature in their offices, gathering samples and forwarding them for registration."

Donors must be between 18 and 55 years old, willing to donate to any patient and be in overall good health, according to the DKMS We Delete Blood Cancer website.

For more information about ADA 2016 or to register for the meeting, visit ADA.org/meeting.