BOISE, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) It is now easier for Idahoans to donate stem cells or blood and marrow to save a life without traveling outside the state.
St. Luke’s Mountain State Tumor Institute in Boise announced it is the first site in the state that can collect donations for the national "Be The Match" registry.
More than 14,000 people a year need a stem cell or blood and marrow transplant to survive. Certain cancers prevent their own cells from developing normally. Instead, they rely on the generosity of donors who sign up and register with the National Marrow Donor Program through community Be The Match events.
Within the registry, 13.5 million volunteers are on standby waiting for that day when a match is eventually identified. For those potential donors in Idaho, Eastern Oregon, Western Montana and Northern Nevada, being a match meant traveling to cities such as Seattle, Salt Lake City or Denver to make their donation. That required several days off work and being away from home. Adding to the complication, if potential donors couldn’t immediately clear their schedules, it cost patients precious survival time.
But the MSTI center is getting ready for that to change as well.
"Our blood cancer, hematology, malignancy program here is growing rapidly. This is just part of one more step in growing the program. Our next step is that next summer actually we actually are going to be doing these transplants ourselves,” said oncologist Dr. William Kreisle.
Annually St. Luke’s Boise sends out 30 patients for this process. According to NMDP/Be The Match, nearly 40 percent of donors, or up to 2,000 people have to travel outside of their region to donate because they don’t have a collection site nearby.
Having these resources in Idaho will create opportunities for doctors and future program advancements.