Two sisters paired up to create life-saving program called "Share America's Marrow" (SAM) to spread the word about bone marrow donation and the need for lifesaving donors across the U.S.
Alex and Sam Kimura started the tour, along with their friend Taylor Shorten, after Sam was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia - a rare disease affecting the bone marrow, according to a news release.
Sam is looking for a life-saving donor, which inspired the girls to take a cross-country tour to educate Americans about the need for bone marrow donors.
In 2015 the girls plan to visit all 50 states and register 50,000 donors, according to their website. The country-wide tour is sponsored by Delete Blood Cancer DKMS.
To become a bone marrow donor the organization collects a swab of the inside of your cheeck. You don't have to do anything else unless you're a match.
If you are contacted becasue someone needs your bone marrow, the doctor will ask you to donate it in one of two ways - through peripheral blood stem cell donation or bone marrow donation. The method is selected by the doctor depending on which is safest for the patient in need of the bone marrow.
Peripheral blood stem cell donation is a non-surgical, outpatient procedure that collects blood stem cells through the bloodstream. The procedure It takes about 4-8 hours on 1-2 consecutive days. This method is used about 75 percent of the time.
Bone marrow donation, which is generally used on children, is done during a 1-2 hour surgical procedure with the donor under anesthesia to ensure there is no pain involved. The marrow is extracted from the back of the pelvic bone with a syringe.
"There are people all over the world who are fighting blood cancer and other diseases like mine, and they are desperately searching for a match. We have to let people know that they can do something about this," Sam said in the news release.
Every year nearly 18,000 people are in need of a potentially life-saving bone marrow transplant, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration.
"We need to let people know it's easier than they think to give someone fighting cancer a second chance at life. We hope that by sharing our story we can inspire people to join the registry," Alex said in the news release.