Donor retention for beginners

Hi Internet,

My name is Mellisa. If you’ve ever wondered what happens when you’re matched with a patient, I’m your woman.  That is to say, I’m the person who contacts you when you’re matched with a patient.

It sounds straightforward, I know, but you’d be surprised.

Imagine a bone marrow donor who registered in 1993.  That’s almost twenty years, and chances are they don’t have the same phone number or the same address.  Imagine a donor who travels between the US and India several times a year, with a phone that is intermittently in service. Imagine a donor who registered in 2003 while they were a freshman in college. They could be anywhere now.

If I’m lucky, the donor has checked in with Be the Match on occasion to update their contact information or they’ve registered recently enough that I can still rely on the information from their consent form. Other times, I have to patch together old phone numbers, old addresses, etc. to get in touch with the donor.  I’ve left comments on blogs, sent messages on Facebook, pretty much everything short of walking up to the donor’s house. And even then, it doesn’t always work. It’s hard to know sometimes, if I’ve got the wrong number or if I’m being politely but insistently ignored. And it’s disheartening, because at the other end, a patient is crossing their fingers for good news.

In coming posts, I’ll discuss particular retention challenges and possible recruitment practices that will make donors more easier to locate.

Mellisa Kim is the Administrative & Recruitment Assistant for AADP.

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