Based on the book by Jodi Piccoult, the movie My Sister's Keeper sheds light on conditions such as leukemia that can be treated by related and unrelated bone marrow transplants.
In the film, Anna (Abigail Breslin) was conceived to be a bone marrow donor for Kate (Sofia Vassilieva), her older sister who has been fighting leukemia since childhood. Kate’s parents, Sara (Cameron Diaz) and Brian (Jason Patric) choose to genetically engineer a child to be a genetic match for Kate, as their other child, Jesse, is not. The story follows Anna’s fight to earn medical emancipation from her parents, who have relied on her to help keep Kate alive.
A bone marrow or cord blood transplant is a potentially life-saving treatment for more than 70 diseases, including leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell disease. But fictional dramas like the movie “My Sister’s Keeper” often include many myths about marrow and cord blood donation or transplantation.
Finding a match
Most people think that patients often find a match in their family. Like the movie’s character Kate, 70 percent of patients in need of a transplant do not have a matching donor in their family. These patients can turn to the Be The Match Registry, the largest and most diverse registry of unrelated volunteer marrow donors and donated cord blood units in the world – to find a match.
Because tissue types are inherited, patients are most likely to match the tissue types of someone who shares their racial or ethnic heritage. Currently, the likelihood of finding at least one potential match on the registry ranges from 60 percent to 88 percent, and depends on a patient’s race or ethnicity.
You can help
While many patients do find the life-saving match they need each year, more donors are needed, especially those from racially and ethnically diverse communities. Take the first step to help patients in need of transplants and join the Be The Match Registry.
There are many other ways to support patients:
• Make a tax-deductible contribution to the Be The Match Foundation to make life-saving transplants a reality for more patients.
• Tell others to get involved. Spread the word online.