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This Isn't Your Mama's Bone Marrow Donation Process

The bone marrow donation process isn’t the same as it used to be. The vastly superior technology has been updated, as has the procedure … but we’ve left the brand in past, where images of large hollow needles, long recoveries, and intense pain circulate. Let’s start fresh! We need to educate people - this isn’t your mama’s bone marrow donation process.

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7 19

Written by DeletedUser

So, what’s the new message?

Throughout our lives, we all encounter a surprising number of occasions to save another human being – kidney donations, blood drives, bone marrow donations… Yet why do so few of us take advantage of these awe-inspiring opportunities? I took a deep dive and asked friends, families, strangers. Why not save a life?

Turns out, we’re scared. Scared of what the surgery will do to us, how it will make us feel, how long our recovery will be. Though it may sound harsh, we are self-serving individuals, and need to be convinced the donation process will be manageable before risking our health for a stranger.

The overarching brand, including the name of the process and the technology, needs to reflect the ease, relative painlessness, and immense opportunity of the journey. The process and commitment level should be equated to a blood drive as opposed to a more invasive procedure, to reduce fears and encourage participation. The rebranding campaign should not discount the fact that another's life may be saved, but it should focus mainly on the donor’s experience.

Most of the time, patients are no longer donating actual bone marrow, they’re donating blood-forming cells. In effect, they’re “super cells” – they act as seed cells to generate new blood growth. What if we rebranded the donation process around “super blood”?

*Become a super donor, donate your super blood.*

People are used to donating blood, and the process for blood-forming cell donation is actually very similar. By removing the words “bone” and “marrow” from the brand, we shed the negative preconceived notions, and start fresh.

To educate people on our new brand, we will create a hip, clean ad campaign targeted towards younger generations. On, we’ll host real donors’ online profiles and stories. Each donor will be featured in print and radio ads, with the take-home message of how quickly the donors were able to return to their normal lives.

*Today I …
Donated super blood,
Saved a life,
Hiked a mountain.*

See the images attached for inspiration ... A QR code will be featured on each ad; when clicked, the viewer will hear/read the personal journey of the donor featured in the ad, and learn how to become a super donor themselves. Turns out, according to February 2011 research from agency MGH,, nearly two-thirds of consumers have seen a QR code, and about half that number, or one-third overall, had used one. The modern technology not only informs, but also reinforces ... this isn't your mama's bone marrow donation process.

Which barrier(s) does your concept address?

  • Fear
  • Misunderstanding

Which step(s) of the journey does your concept apply to?

  • Awareness


Join the conversation:

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Hi Marney,

As the recipient of a bone marrow transplant 10 years ago, I appreciate the time, consideration and research in this concept. What resonates with me is that you identified two major barriers to the donation process- fear and misinterpretation. I clearly remember my brother hearing that the donation procedure was equivalent to "being kicked by a horse" when in fact it was relatively quick and painless. The parallel to a blood transfusion is an excellent one.

I also like the rebranding strategy that invokes the "superpower” of bone marrow. While we know a great deal about the science of the transplant process, much of it still remains a mystery- especially how it knows where to go and when the transplant takes. Plus, I think of my brother as a "superhero" for saving my life.

I do, however, think the images supporting your concept have room for improvement. The leading image simply reinforces the stereotypical image of a cancer patient while ignoring the nuances of the disease or the transplant process. The other images reflect those found in a motivational calendar. Instead, I would visualizing the ease of the process in a photorealistic way.

Moreover, indirectly tying the process of donating bone marrow to that of winning a volleyball match or signing a new client detracts from the value of the act. Stay simple: donating is special but it is also easy.

I would also not limit your audience. A "hip, clean campaign" does not necessarily need to preclude other generations- especially when the recipient would benefit from the bone marrow of anyone.

Again, thank you for submitting the concept. There are some very strong ideas in this proposal that I hope are carried forward.

On a side note, during the transplant process my nurses told me that recipients of a BMT have been known to take on the characteristics of their donor- from blood type (which is true) to other factors such as hair color and favorite foods. While this may be an old wives’ tale, my brother and I are now aligned in the types of beer we enjoy- mainly Guinness. Now that’s a true superpower.


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I love this idea, especially the part about renaming "bone marrow," to something less fear-provoking.

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Thanks for the feedback, all!

Great call to connect the registration opportunity directly to the QR code/cell phone; you could even sign up for a text message notification when a super blood drive is coming to your neighborhood.

And great to know the re-branded super blood resonates with folks around the world - spread the word, sounds like we're already starting to raise awareness!

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I like the idea of elevating the donor. Is their a way to link the QR code directly to the donation experience? As in if they scan the code they are immediately able to enter their information to have a registration kit sent to them, or provides information for a mobile registration drive in their area?

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I threw two fundraisers (going from zero to raising $40K in 2 weeks) for a friend who needed an emergency bone marrow transplant and needed to get into Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Through that process I learned about how important blood cell donation is, and also how much the technology for it has changed. We really need to update the collective consciousness on this -- I think most folks are in the dark ages. And if we can somehow streamline that educational effort with an easier donation process, all the better!

Photo of Vincent Cheng

Just read your concept and I'm so glad you posted it in time for this challenge Marney. I must say it's probably the strongest bone marrow rebranding idea I've come across so far. *Applause* to you, and to the selection team for identifying this.