According to the Health Resource and Service Administration (HRSA), each year close to 20,000 individuals in the United States, ranging from 0 to 74 years of age, could benefit from a life-saving bone marrow transplant. Additionally, the Health Resource and Service Administration (HRSA) also states that 3,544 of those transplants will be provided by a relative of patient while 4,926 will be provided by a volunteer donor (HRSA, n.d.). With those numbers staying consistent year after year, it is important to bring light to need for bone marrow donation. Raising awareness for bone marrow donation can be achieved through a public service campaign that includes outreach activities aimed towards the targeted audience. By increasing the awareness of the vital need for bone marrow donations, more individuals will be educated on the process of registering to donate and if able, become a donor, and ultimately truthfully follow through with the donation when a match is found. Be The Match states that, along with the National Marrow Donor Program, for the past 25 years they work every day to save lives through transplant. Volunteering to donate all started in 1974 when 10-year-old Laura Graves received the first ever bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor. Within the first year after Graves’ transplant, 10,000 individuals registered to donate. Be The Match aims to inform individuals that, the cure for blood cancer is in the hands of ordinary people (Be The Match, 2016).
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A public service campaign is necessary for bone marrow donation largely due to the fact that it can be a daunting task for both the donor and the recipient. There are negative stigmas that surround bone marrow donation and it is important to ease minds while simultaneously educating the public so more people are compelled to donate. According to Katharina Harf, the executive vice president in the U.S. of the German-based bone marrow organization DKMS, “The national average is that 47 percent of people say no when asked to donate” (ABC News, 2010). While not every “no” received is because the individual does not want to donate, it is still a high number and if more people were aware of the process they could be more likely to say yes. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society estimate that 171,550 people will be diagnosed with Leukemia, Lymphoma, or Myeloma in 2016, and approximately every three minutes one person in the United States is diagnosed with blood cancer. For those suffering with these diseases, a bone marrow transplant could potentially be the only thing stopping them from potentially recovering from such a terrible illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that Sickle Cell Disease affects approximately 100,000 Americans, and it is another disease that could potentially be eased with the help of a bone marrow transplant. If people continue to be uneducated about the topic of bone marrow donations and those who desperately need them, the problem is only going to become more insidious. With fewer individuals in bone marrow donation systems, fewer patients have a chance of survival. When more people are informed about the process, more lives can be saved.
The target audience for bone marrow donation are those who are 18 to 44 years of age. This age range has the highest success rate for matches at 95% because their bodies produce more and higher quality cells than older donors. It is also important to reach out to those who are 45 to 60 years old because they are still allowed to donate their bone marrow by paying a $100 fee. Be The Match claims that these restrictions are not meant to discriminate, but they are there to protect the safety of the donor and provide the best possible outcome for the patient. It is also important to target both men and women alike and those from different ethnic backgrounds. According to Be The Match, there is a higher success rate to find a match from the same ethnic background. However, this does not mean that donations are strictly limited to those of the same ethnicity, the most important part is finding a match and if someone from a different ethnicity is the missing piece to a person’s survival, it is important they donate.
Outreach programs are going to be crucial if each segment of our target audience is to be reached. The first would be a 5k walk/run, which would be geared towards those who are 18 to 44 years old. This would be a perfect event for this target audience because that age bracket tends to care a lot about their health, and a 5k is not too daunting where one would need any significant training to participate. It is also going to be imperative to reach out to the 45-60-year old bracket with this as well since we do not want anyone to feel as if the event is polarized for one specific group. Anyone 18 and up could volunteer to help out with the event if they did not feel up to participating in the walk/run, specifically those who were interested in donating bone marrow but could not due to medical or other reasons. Money would be raised by purchasing your participant number to register for the race and any extra donations at the time of the event as well. Each participant and volunteer would receive a free t-shirt for their efforts, and there would be prizes awarded for first second and third place in each heat. Free water would be provided, and there would be snacks and other drinks available after the race is completed. It is understandable that many people in the specified age groups have children, and we would not want them to feel as if they could not participate because they could not find someone to watch their children. There would be a children’s area monitored by volunteers to watch any children while their guardians are participating in the race. Ultimately, a 5k would be a very important event because it advocates for overall physical health and would support our cause in the process.
While a 5k would target a large demographic, we would also hold a benefit called Sparkle & Swab. This plays on the idea that it is a dressy event and the simple swab a person needs to do in order to be put in the bone marrow registry system. The target audience for this would be 30 and above. This is an important range for this event because we want those who are well established in their careers to be able to donate and get others involved as well. Similarly, a benefit gives the opportunity for those who are outside of the age boundaries to actually donate marrow to participate and show their support for the cause. Unfortunately, there is the age cut off and it can seem as if it is a polarizing system, but donating marrow is not the only donation that is important. Monetary donations are just as important because they can help those who are in tight financial situations afford a transplant procedure when originally they could not. Insurance may not cover all of a procedure as well, so any money raised could be the extra little bit to save someone’s life. Monetary donations also go toward medical research to further improve the process of giving and receiving bone marrow to allow for the most positive experience for everyone involved. Guests would pay for either a single seat or an entire table, and their meal would be included in that price. Entertainment for the evening would be provided along with speakers who have donated their marrow and recipients of marrow to educate the guests on why this issue is crucial. Along with the dinner, there would also be a silent and live auction guests can participate in, which would benefit the overall goal. Sparkle & Swab would be the most important event to raise money. As previously stated, while being able to donate bone marrow is extremely important, monetary donations take our campaign just as far and help just as many people.
Finally, our brochure would be another very important outreach tool. These would be given out at the 5k, the benefit, and delivered door to door and through the mail. Even though this seems small in regards to the other activities, the brochure can lay out important information that can be missed via word of mouth, and gives information on where individuals can go to get involved or receive even more information than before. While our brochure is for each individual 18 and up, they can be more beneficial for those who find the internet too difficult and just want something tangible in their hands to read. With simple yet effective wording and imagery (reference Appendix A and B), our brochure is the final puzzle piece to making all of our outreach activities work in sync with one another.
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Be The Match is an organization that would be extremely beneficial to work with and include in this campaign. Even though they are a popular organization in their own right, there are a lot of individuals who remain uninformed about the cause they support. All donations collected through our events would be given to Be The Match since they already have a reputable system in place. While it is possible to start our own organization, working with Be The Match would be the most successful option since they are a well established organization. Any swabs collected during any of the events would be sealed at the time and sent off to Be The Match as well to be put into their system to find potential matches for patients. Organizing the activities mentioned with Be The Match would be as simple as reaching out to them and letting them know we are interested in working with them and then sending them our collections. It is important to show that we put our faith and support in the hands of an organization that we trust who has access to a larger audience and more tools to reach patients who are in dire need for donations. Not only do we care about those who will benefit from these donations, but we care about our donors as well. We want them in the best hands possible, and we believe Be The Match is the best of the best.
The expected outcome that will result from this public service campaign are that there will be an increased awareness of the vital need for bone marrow donations, more individuals will be educated on the process of registering to donate and if able, become a donor, and ultimately truthfully follow through with the donation when a match is found. This will have a positive impact for those needing a bone marrow transplant. Jobs created will be basic business positions, such as marketing, communication, and business development. Job area would be public engagement and recruitment. There will likely also be a need for patient service employees and research jobs. There will also be opportunities for college students to gain experience through internships offered in the areas of work throughout the campaign. The effects of our campaign will be measured through a simple questionnaire when individuals go to register, asking how they found out about donating bone marrow.
- B. (2016). Myths and facts about bone marrow donation. Retrieved December 07, 2016, from https://bethematch.org
- B. (2016). Our story. Retrieved December 08, 2016, from https://bethematch.org/about-us/our-story/
- Carollo, K., & Unit, A. N. (2010, November 12). Woman dies after bone marrow transplant donors back out. Retrieved December 07, 2016, from http://abcnews.go.com
- Complications and treatments. (2016, August 31). Retrieved December 07, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov
- Facts and statistics. (2016). Retrieved December 07, 2016, from https://www.lls.org
- Health Resources and Services Administration. General FAQ. (n.d.). Retrieved December 09, 2016, from https://bloodcell.transplant.hrsa.gov
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