MINNEAPOLIS, May 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The challenges surrounding COVID-19 have impacted every aspect of healthcare, including ensuring the timely delivery of bone marrow and blood stem cells for transplant. Thanks to the generosity of the Lockheed Martin Corporation, however, patients are able to continue receiving life-saving transplants without interruption.
When the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP)/Be The Match ran out of available European Union couriers to deliver life-saving cells to American patients and with tens of thousands of commercial flights canceled, Lockheed Martin stepped up to offer their corporate aircraft as an in-kind donation to support the federal government's COVID-19 response and relief efforts to ensure patients that life-saving products from European donors would arrive on time.
NMDP/Be The Match®, operates the federally authorized program that matches unrelated volunteer donors with patients in the United States and abroad who have been diagnosed with leukemia and over 70 more otherwise fatal blood disorders and diseases.
In addition to matching donors and patients, one of the program's primary missions is coordinating the delivery of bone marrow domestically and internationally to patients in the United States and abroad. This life-or-death delivery has historically been accomplished by trained couriers hand carrying donated marrow in the passenger compartment of commercial aircraft from donor collection centers to the hospitals of patients all across the globe.
Patients who are scheduled to receive transplants in the coming days are already in the process of a carefully timed course of chemotherapy and radiation treatments designed to eliminate their existing immune systems in preparation for the transplantation of cells to create a healthy, new immune system. If the transportation of donor cells is interrupted, the consequences are fatal to these patients whose immune systems have been ablated.
"The incredible support from Lockheed Martin is a lifeline to our patients. For those awaiting bone marrow transplant, their very survival depends on the on-time delivery of these life-saving cells. By offering flight services, Lockheed Martin is helping us ensure that patients can continue the cells they need, exactly when they need them," said NMDP/Be The Match Chief Policy Officer Brian Lindberg.
As part of this partnership Lockheed Martin will be providing weekly air transport based on government medical need – flying government medical teams to the most critical, high-priority locations around the country and/or flying to support bone marrow transport to help with the government's COVID-19 response.
NMDP/Be The Match has facilitated over 100,000 bone marrow transplants since 1987 to deliver cures for patients battling blood cancers and blood disorders. More than 50 percent of those transplants involve international donors or recipients.
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 contribute to the 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 nonprofit organization that matches patients with donors, educates health care professionals and conducts research through its research program, CIBMTR® (Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research®), so more lives can be saved. To learn more about the cure, visit BeTheMatch.org or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.