OpenIDEO’s latest challenge is a partnership with Stanford’s Haas Center and an inspiring group of students running an initiative called 100kCheeks.

Bone Marrow Donation is a complex problem: although there are national Bone Marrow Registres such as the BetheMatch US site, it’s still hard for many people to find a match who desperately require a transplant in order to stand a chance of fighting cancers such as leukemia. Worst of all the registry is not terribly diverse in it’s ethnic makeup. Bone marrow is not the same as blood donation; you need a genetic match in order to have a successful transplant. Patients from South Asian decent in particular find it hard to find a match. Read this fascinating account of one Stanford student’s struggle.

You can see why it’s so important to think creatively about solutions to increase the number of donors. The problem is compounded by the misconceptions that surround the proceedure. How do you donate bone marrow? Most people think ‘pain’ at the very thought. In fact 80% of the time (it depends on the health of the donor, the facilities, and the doctor), it’s not massively different from donating blood, and to completely debunk the big myth: it’s painless and you don’t need an anaesthetic nor do you need to take weeks off work. Admittedly the remaining 20% requires a local anaesthetic and there can be some lower back soreness for a few days after. But consider the upside: it’s not like you’re just stocking up the general marrow supplies; donating marrow has a 1:1 relationship on the life of another person and you’ll only be required to donate if someone is in a life–critical state and if are a potential match.

Jennifer Aaker and team created this compelling video that eloquently describes the very real issue.

Our OpenIDEO challenge starts by asking for inspiration around some key issue areas that relate to the problem, there are four specific ways you can contribute in this phase:

– Identify innovation in the bone marrow, blood, organ, and tissue donation space.

– Share your own personal experiences donating or receiving bone marrow, blood, or any other physical donation.

– What examples of ripple effects have you experienced or learned about?

– What Have We Missed?

Come and inspire us here:​oi-bonemarrow

To sign up to the US bone marrow registry go here: