An Odd Question

Doctors had told his parents the chances of finding

an exact match for the desperately sick infant were about 1 in 20,000.

“I said, ‘Well then, I’ll add 20,000 people to the bone marrow registry’”, his father remembered.

“They looked at me like I was crazy.”

Michael Guglielmo


A very brief post this week – I apologize for that but these’re busy days in the lab. Anyway I want you think about a few numbers I found on the internet. So, consider the following odds related to the chances one person has to die from a specific cause (based on series relative to year 2001;


  1. 1 in 100 is the chance you have to die in a motor vehicle accident (I don’t drive motor vehicles!);
  2. 1 in 5,000 refers to the probability to die for electrocution (impressive!);
  3. 1 in 20,000 is the probability to die in a air travel accident – air travel companies spend a huge amount of money to reduce chances to make mistakes (in each procedure) very close to zero, but it still remain numerically considerable;
  4. 1 in 60,000 is the chance you have to be in the midst of a tornado and (likely) to pass away;
  5. 1 in 100,000 is the estimated probability to die after snake, bee or other venomous bite or sting (probably following untreated anaphilaxis);


Well, 1 in 100,000 is also the chance one person has to find a (allogeneic) matched donor if diagnosed with an haematologic disease which eventually requires Bone Marrow Transplantation (BMT) from an unrelated donor as the preferred (and often life saving) treatment modality. This is an odd question.


Becoming a donor will transform chances into favorable outcomes. Here you can find one blog regarding a personal experience of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) donation and the astonishing story of Giovanni Guglielmo. See you next week with related stuff.


Emma Caitlin’s “The Bone Marrow” Blog:


Giovanni Guglielmo’s story:


One Response to An Odd Question

  1. This is really true! When you look at the numbers, everything seems more clear and important.
    However as Dr. Benjamin Uttenthal mentioned on Monday, stem cell transplantation from donor can have some problems such as GVHD. The challenge of Stem Cell technology is to produce Heamatopoietic Stem Cells from patient cells so that GVHD won’t be a problem and the donor won’t be required. Until then we should all be together in supporting Bone Marrow Transplantation and Stem Cell research (Italian Government included ;-)).
    Davide you should keep us updated of your experience as a donor.

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