Jason Cox learned about the importance of bone marrow donation when he was just 9 year old and diagnosed with a potentially deadly form of anemia.
"I was going to need a bone marrow transplant to save my life and they tested my brothers and it turned out my oldest brother was a match and we went through the transplant process in 1986 and here we are today," said Cox
Cox was lucky.
Only 30 percent of people who need a bone marrow transplant find a match in their family. The other 70 percent rely on a national registry.
The South Texas Blood And Tissue Center is one place that screens donors.
Becoming a donor consists of filling out paper work and taking a cheek swab test.
The tests are sent to a lab and if a match is found, further blood tests are done.
The majority of donations don't involve surgery.
It instead involves a peripheral blood stem cell donation, which requires taking a drug called Filgrastim for five days before donation. Donors may have flu-like symptoms for several days.
Bone marrow donation is a surgical outpatient procedure. Donors receive general or regional anesthesia and most donors experience soreness in their hips, thighs or back for a week or two.
"Often times, they feel like they did squats, with soreness in the hip and thigh area. For the stem cell donation, you can feel like you have flu-like symptoms while you're receiving the medication," said Yvonne Ybarra, the director of the Bone Marrow Donor program for the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center.
Patients who need transplants are most likely to match someone of their own race or ethnicity.
Right now, there's a big need for Hispanic donors.
For more information on how to become a donor visit: