Johann Castillo spent many years too weak to enjoy the pleasures of life. He had no energy to play with his two young children or even walk up stairs. That all changed when Castillo received a bone marrow stem cell transplant last year. 12 months later, Castillo has taken life by the horns, training to join the Be The Match Walk+Run that took place on April 11, at Montrose Harbo-Grove 16.
Castillo’s participation contributed to the effort to raise money to support the non-profit, Be The Match, in their work finding bone marrow donors for critically ill patients.
The chances of finding a bone marrow match can be low. Only 30% of searching patients are able to locate one within their families. This is why Be The Match’s work is so important – the organization recruits volunteer bone marrow donors and helps match them with patients awaiting transplants.
As the biggest registry in the world, Be The Match boasts an extensive list of potential bone marrow donors and umbilical cord blood units which all contain the same blood-forming cells as bone marrow.
It was cord blood, donated by anonymous parents of a newborn, that provided the stem cells that doctors used to for Castillo’s transplant in March 2014.
After the transplant, Castillo had to be extremely cautious since his immune system was practical nonexistent. He was unable to interact with his kids or family while he healed.
Today, the contrast is remarkable – Castillo has gone from taking more than 50 medications a day to taking just one, a multi-vitamin.
About Be The Match
For people with life-threatening blood cancers – like leukemia and lymphoma – or other diseases, a cure exists. Be The Match connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. People can be someone’s cure as a member of the Be The Match Registry, financial contributor or volunteer. Be The Match provides patients and their families one-on-one support, education, and guidance before, during and after transplant. Be The Match is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), a non-profit organization that matches patients with donors, educates health care professionals and conducts research so more lives can be saved. To learn more about the cure, visit BeTheMatch.org or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.
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