Mich. dentist registers bone marrow donors at his practice

A Michigan dentist has launched a statewide campaign to encourage dental patients to register as bone marrow donors, according to an article in the Grand Rapids Press.

Steve Conlon, DDS, hopes his Take a Bite Out of Cancer campaign will go nationwide. Dr. Conlon observed that the bulk of his patients are typically healthy adults who are 18 to 54 years old. They make ideal donors for a treatment that can save the lives of leukemia, lymphoma, and sickle cell anemia patients.

Dr. Conlon's effort was spurred by the death of his father, a dentist who died of acute myelogeneous leukemia (AML) before he could receive a transplant, and a longtime patient who was diagnosed with the same illness.

The patient, Joel Carter, and Dr. Conlon began lending a hand at bone marrow donor registration drives, the article explained. The cheek-swabbing procedure that Dr. Conlon observed could easily be completed at his practice; it would also be easier and less expensive than organizing an entire donor registration event.

A successful first drive at his practice motivated him to expand. In 2012, he went statewide with the help of a Michigan Dental Association and Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Michigan sponsorship. He received additional help from bone marrow donor center Delete Blood Cancer and the overall effort registered more than 2,500 people.

Swab kits are provided free of charge to dentists by the campaign. The swab is performed by patients, and the practice sends the sample to a lab.

There is a significant need for minority donors to be added to the registry, the article noted.

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