Be The Match, a bone marrow donor registry operated by the National Marrow Donor Program recently launched an interactive website to generate awareness surrounding blood cancers and to encourage people to register for the bone marrow registry.
The new site is called My Social Strand and the goal is to weave connections between life-saving donors and patients in need of marrow transplants.
With just a click, users log-in using their Facebook profiles, fill out brief surveys and the program will generate a custom strand for each individual using Facebook data and information from the survey.
It’ll have everything from most talkative Facebook friend to the number of Facebook friends that will likely be affected by leukemia during their lifetime.
“It takes fun and interesting facts and figures based on the users’ info and will generate a interesting tidbit like how popular someone’s name is,” Brian Powell, a developer at StudioGood who helped build My Social Strand said.
After the Social Strand is generated, users can share their information and findings to their friends.
According to Lynn Treadwell, the supervisor of interactive development and communications, the website was developed to capture the attention of the social media generation.
“We wanted to do something that was going to be highly sharable,” she said. “And we wanted to emphasis that a single individual can make that difference in the life of someone who has leukemia.”
Miss Florida Spirit 2012 and a freshman at the University of Tampa Florida, Kirstin Pollock said the initiative really appealed to her and eventually became one of her pageant platforms.
“When I was younger one of my best friends passed away from leukemia and I didn’t really know much about it,” she said. “When I donated blood for the first time I asked them about how would I get involved in donating bone marrow. And they told me about Be The Match.”
Pollock found My Social Strand through Facebook and has been surprised about how little people know about the initiative.
“I like how easy it was and how it shows how you’re involved in different aspects in your life,” she said. “It’s also crazy how many people don’t know about bone marrow donations.”
But the word has been spreading. Treadwell said since the website launched in March, Be The Match’s Facebook page membership has gone up by nearly 30%.
“Be The Match is really about that concept of connecting,” Regan Hall Reinerth, the senior marketing manager for Be The Match said. “That’s what’s so great about developing My Social Strand. It’s about making that special connection. With Facebook and social connectivity, it’s a lot about how people can express their individuality.”
The goal of the site is to motivate people to sign up for the bone marrow registry.
“College students are some of the most important people to us in the registry,” Reinerth said. “In fact registry members between the ages 18 and 44 are ten times more likely to be called as a potential match for patients.”
Though the website has exceeded initial expectation, organizers feel there is much work to be done.
“What we are about are helping to connecting patients and donors together,” Reinerth said. “There are 10,000 patients a year searching for a marrow donor. For many of these patients, their only hope for a cure is a marrow transplant. And 70% of the time, patients won’t find a match in their family so they’re looking at these registries for a second chance.”
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