The Dental Drive Campaign
The Dental Drive campaign enables us to be a part of this global effort, and sounds like a perfect match for dental hygiene.
Lots of great ideas have been popping up on Facebook recently. Last month, my Editor’s Note was based on an article I read on Facebook regarding the term “mid-level provider” (“What’s in a Name?” June 2017). This month, one of my Facebook friends—Kimberly A. Erdman, RDH, PHDHP, MSDH—shared an article about DKMS, an organization dedicated to eradicating blood cancer. One of its objectives is to encourage individuals to become bone marrow and stem cell donors. How is this relevant to dental hygiene? DKMS is enlisting oral health professionals to become educators and ambassadors for this important cause.
DKMS is an international nonprofit organization that was started in Germany by Peter Harf, PhD, MBA, who lost his wife to leukemia. In the 25 years since its inception, DKMS has spread beyond Germany with offices in the United States, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom. True to its mission, DKMS has registered more than 6 million bone marrow donors worldwide. In the US each year, nearly 14,000 people who need a bone marrow transplant do not have a family member who is a suitable donor. Thus, they must rely on a stranger who is willing to donate bone marrow. It’s easy to see how education and a simple message to encourage donors can make a tremendous impact.
Blood cancers include malignancies of the blood, bone marrow, or lymph nodes. “Blood cancer” is an encompassing term that includes such diseases as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. These conditions cause lifethreatening damage to the immune and circulatory systems. Other disorders, such as sickle cell disease and anemias, can only be cured by a bone marrow transplant. In fact, more than 70 different types of blood cancers and other disorders can be treated by bone marrow and stem cell donations.
Here’s where oral health professionals can make a difference: a quick, simple, cheek swab during a recare visit can enable your patient to register as a potential bone marrow donor. More than 400 dental offices have participated in this effort over the past 2 years. In fact, some state dental associations have partnered with DKMS to create awareness of the campaign, including the Michigan, New York, and Georgia dental associations. Known as the Dental Drive Campaign, DKMS provides education, training, and support to dental offices that commit to participating in the effort. Just think, in the time it takes to swab a cheek, you could save someone’s life.
Before his wife passed away from leukemia, Harf promised her that he would try to help find a matching donor for every blood cancer patient. As a result, DKMS is making great strides in helping fulfill that promise. The Dental Drive campaign enables us to be a part of this global effort, and sounds like a perfect match for dental hygiene. For more information, visit: dkms.org/en/dental.
— Jill Rethman, RDH, BA
Editor in Chief