Patients seeing their dentist in November can do
safe, simple oral swab to become potential donor
LANSING – Michigan patients visiting their dentist’s office in November can become part of the international bone marrow registry – and possibly help save a life – by submitting a self-administered oral swab before they leave.
The drive is part of the second “Take a Bite Out of Cancer” campaign, cosponsored by the Michigan Dental Association (MDA) and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Michigan, to expand the registry of potential bone marrow donors. Last year more than 2,500 swabs were submitted and of those, five matches were made.
“Bone marrow matches are hard to make, so the fact that we were able to save five lives as a result of last year’s campaign means we’re fired up to exceed that this year,” said Steve Conlon, a Grand Rapids dentist and MDA member who lost his father-in-law to leukemia.
“Virtually every dentist and every dental patient in the state can help make sure we exceed what we accomplished last year,” said Marty Makowski, MDA president-elect and a Clinton Township pediatric dentist.
More than 5,100 cancer patients in Michigan – and more than 1 million nationwide – are waiting for a bone marrow transplant. This video shows just how important transplants are to cancer patients and their families.
“Michigan dentists and their patients have the chance to offer hope to thousands of Michigan residents, and we are very grateful for their partnership,” said Norb Promo, deputy executive director of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Michigan. “Looking for a match is a very stressful time for patients and their families. We thank the Michigan Dental Association and Delta Dental for taking on this campaign. Just one match can literally save a life.”
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Michigan, in partnership with DKMS Labs, the world’s largest bone marrow donor center, is providing the swab kits free of charge. Participating dental offices will provide the kits, encourage patients to do their own swab and deposit them into a tube right at the dental office. Each week the tubes will be mailed to a lab where they will be tested and entered into the international bone marrow donor registry.
Two of the state’s leading health advocates – Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion, chair of the Senate House Policy Committee, and Rep. Gail Haines, R-Waterford, chair of the House Health Policy Committee – were among the first to submit their oral swabs, noting it’s an easy step almost anyone can take to help fight cancer.
The MDA works to educate the public about oral health, promotes the science and art of dentistry, and provides educational materials and services to its 5,500 members, enhancing their ability to provide quality care. For more information go to www.smilemichigan.com.