Marrow donor registry saves lives

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
Malmstrom Air Force Base is hosting the C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Recruitment and Research Program, Sept. 24-28 at The Exchange and at Bldg. 1145, The Center for Inclusion, Resilience, Community, Learning, and Education.

The program, also known as Salute to Life, provides DOD members an opportunity to join the national registry of bone marrow and stem cell donors.

Since its inception in 1991, Salute to Life has recruited more than 1 million individuals in the fight against blood cancers and other fatal diseases and has coordinated more than 8,100 cell donations for patients.

For Staff Sgt. Tara Kindermann, 490th Missile Squadron facility manager, this program hits close to home.

“I have a family member diagnosed with cancer and they were looking for possible bone marrow donors for him,” said Kindermann.

Upon hearing this news, Kindermann and family members signed up to become potential bone marrow donors.

“I figured the least I can do is see if I could be a match for him,” said Kindermann.

Although they weren’t matches for her relative, it didn’t mean signing up was a lost cause.

“Even though we weren’t matches for him I figured we could hopefully be a match for somebody else in the future,” said Kindermann.

Kindermann awaits the possibility of becoming a donor, having already been added to the donor system.

Although it is possible, it is unlikely to be a match for someone right away when signing up to be a donor, said Kindermann.

Kindermann now serves as a point of contact to add people to the donor registry.

“You may not be a match for somebody right away but maybe down the road, someone’s life will be impacted by the decision to donate, whether it’s someone in your family or someone you don’t know,” said Kindermann.

The Salute to Life program works with the DOD to accommodate the scheduling and security needs of military personnel to be able to host a bone marrow drive on a defense installation including Malmstrom.

“Being a DOD endorsed program (Salute to Life) gives our Airmen, their dependents and Malmstrom an opportunity to help,” said Kindermann. “You never know when somebody’s going to need a match and you could possibly be that one.”

Donation occurs in three phases. In the first phase, donors are culled out until a single, fully-committed, best-match donor is found. The second phase requires a full health assessment and physical examination before moving on to the final phase, donation.
Stem cells can be donated by two different methods.

A bone marrow donation, the traditional method, is marrow removed from the hip bone using a needle. This method is done under general anesthesia and requires an overnight hospital stay.

A peripheral blood stem cell donation requires several doses of filgrastim, a drug which causes the bones to release marrow cells into the blood. The cells are removed using a blood screening machine over several hours.

Eligible perspective donors include DOD military members, their dependents and any DOD civilians in good health between the ages of 18 and 60.

To join the national donor registry for free, complete a consent form and cheek swab. Potential donor candidates remain active on the registry until age 61 or until they request to be removed.

For additional information regarding the donor drive, contact Staff Sgt. Rebecca Alldredge or go to