'Be the Match' recruits potential bone marrow donors - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

'Be the Match' recruits potential bone marrow donors

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Makayla Claussen Makayla Claussen

A young Antioch woman is alive today thanks to a stranger thousands of miles away who donated when she needed a stem cell transplant.

Makayla Claussen greeted people as they arrived at her "re-birthday" celebration last weekend, marking one year since her lifesaving transplant.

Claussen was hosting a bone marrow registration drive. Her friends, family and even strangers signed up to find out if they can help give someone else an incredible gift.

"This is what saved my life," Claussen said. "It all started with four swabs of the cheek and I'm here a year later because someone did this for me."

When Claussen needed a transplant, she couldn't find a donor in her family. The Be the Match Foundation found a match for her all the way in Germany.

"It's very difficult to find matches for patients," said Rhonda Moore, bone marrow recruiter for Be the Match.

Moore said that joining the registry starts with a few swabs inside a person's mouth. The sample that's collected is used to find the donor's tissue type and then match them with a patient in need.

Additional testing may be necessary.

"Seventy-five to 80 percent of the time, it's similar to a blood donation, similar as in an Alyx machine or platelet donation," Moore said. "If it is for a pediatric patient, only one to five percent marrow is removed. The donor is completely sedated, feels no pain."

For many who signed up, this was a deeply personal campaign.

"I want to be able to help the people who end up in the same situation as Makayla," said Elora Ray, who joined Be the Match. "Just to be able to give someone a second chance at life is an amazing thing."

According to Be the Match, 70 percent of all patients who need a transplant do not have a matched donor in their family.

For more information about Be the Match, click here.

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