The following guest post is from Alison McCauley, Internet and Social Media Associate at Amplify Public Affairs.

The National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP) recently stepped up its donor recruitment efforts with two key changes: (1) Renaming its donor registry, and (2) Expanding its online outreach efforts with social media tools.

The NMDP donor registry, newly renamed Be The Match (BeTheMatch.org), has a Facebook cause, a YouTube channel, a MySpace profile and group, and it has presences on BlackPlanet, Plaxo, and LinkedIn.

The Be The Match website is engaging, it encourages communication among site users, and it facilitates the organization of donor drives, fundraising, and other events.  It even has its own social network – LifeJourneys Transplant Community.  Members, called Champions, can create Tribute pages to share stories, honor or memorialize loved ones, recognize accomplishments or milestones, and raise funds for the Be The Match Foundation.

The marrow donor registry is in desperate need of more donors overall and greater diversity of donors. Finding a genetically compatible bone-marrow donor for a patient in need of a transplants is difficult under any circumstances.  For patients of mixed racial or ethnic backgrounds,the odds of finding a match are even slimmer.  One patient facing this obstacle is Natasha Collins, a 26-year-old medical student with recurrent leukemia.  When doctors said she needed a bone-marrow transplant, Natasha’s community at Yale reached out to communities online to raise awareness and recruit marrow donors, and the results so far are impressive and encouraging.

NMDP’s innovative approach “personalizes the transplant or donation experience and gives other families hope while inspiring people to support our life-saving work.”  It’s an inspirational example of how new media can be used to address communications needs – in this case, NMDP can more effectively communicate with and recruit members of key demographic groups to the marrow donor registry.   This improvement could help save thousands of lives, and even close the gap between white and minority patients’ odds of receiving needed transplants.

Learn more and join the marrow donor registry at BeTheMatch.org

Sources:

Leinwand, Josh “Community: Online Bone Marrow DriveThe Health Care Blog (April 30, 2009)
Landro, Laura “Building Diversity in Bone-Marrow RegistriesWSJ.com‘s “The Informed Patient” column (May 27, 2009)
Claeys, Catherine “NMDP Renames Bone Marrow Registry to Be The Match” National Marrow Donor Program News Release (April 7, 2009)

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