'Be the Match' runners, walkers raise money for bone marrow donations

'Be the Match' runners, walkers raise money for bone marrow donations »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. – Runners and walkers filled Portland’s Waterfront Sunday morning to raise awareness and money for bone marrow donations.

It was a special day for Josh Neumann.

“Thirty-nine days ago (I) had a transplant. A bone marrow transplant,” Neumann said.

He has to wear a protective mask as he fights leukemia. Each step he took, along with his fellow participants in the Be the Match Walk and Run, was nothing short of a gift from someone he’ll never know.

Someone who decided to get tested and donate bone marrow.

“The transplant saved my life,” said Neumann. “Without the transplant, I wouldn’t have a chance.”

About 10,000 people each year need bone marrow transplants, and 70 percent of them get those transplants through Be the Match.

“I have a very rare bone marrow type and the person I donated to was waiting for me,” said donor Tom Ank. “I just didn’t know it.”

Ank said donating his bone marrow didn’t involve surgery. It was a lot like giving blood, he said, except he flew to his donation site. Be the Match took care of that.

“All you have to do is show up at the airport and from that point you’re done,” said Ank. “It’s just doing what you have to do.”

At Sunday’s finish line, people could also register to become donors.

“The more people that we have in the registry, the better chances of all our patients finding a donor,” said spokeswoman Magda Silva. “We want everybody to be able to find a match.”