ALAMEDA, California – Andrew, a 35-year-old of Filipino and European ancestry was diagnosed in June 2020 with severe myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a pre-leukemia condition that took his father’s life in 2014. Now the father of two, ages 2 and 4, Andrew needs a stem cell transplant in the next 3 months from a matching stem cell non-relative donor who will likely be Filipino and/or European.
MDS is a group of cancers in which immature blood cells in the bone marrow do not mature and, so, do not become healthy blood cells. Early on, no symptoms typically are seen. Later, symptoms may include feeling tired, shortness of breath, easy bleeding, or frequent infections. Some types of MDS may develop into acute myeloid leukemia.
“Andrew is dependent on a stranger, most likely of Filipino heritage or of Filipino and European heritage, to step forward and register,” says Carol Gillespie, executive director of the Asian American Donor Program (AADP), a 30-year-old nonprofit organization in Alameda, California. “People of color and people who are multi-ethnic are encouraged to register.”
Registering only takes about 5 minutes. A swab kit will be mailed after completion of the online registration. Upon receipt of the kit, the registrant swabs the inside of a cheek and pops the kit in the mail. Postage is pre-paid and you don’t have to leave your home. And, the testing is free.
People of color are more likely to die of leukemia and other blood cancers because there is a shortage of ethnically diverse donors on the Be The Match® national registry. It is vital to build a registry with ethnically diverse HLA types so everyone has an equal opportunity to survive blood cancers.
“For thousands of severely ill blood cancer patients, there is a cure,” says Gillespie, “You could be the cure. Those whose marrow/stem cells are not a match for a patient in need now may be a match for someone else down the road, anywhere in the world. I encourage everyone who is able to commit to registering. It is simple to register – just complete an online questionnaire and swab of the inside of your cheek.”
When a marrow match is not readily available, patients have to wait longer than is ideal to find a match.” Once a match has been found, their disease may have progressed to the point that they are no longer eligible for a transplant.
At any given time, 12,000 people are looking for a matching stem cell donor to help save their life. Patients are from all walks of life and are from numerous racial and ethnic groups.
In 2019, an estimated combined total of 176,200 people in the US were expected to be diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma.
New cases of leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma were expected to account for 10 percent of the estimated 1,762,450 new cancer cases diagnosed in the US in 2019. (From: https://www.lls.org/facts-and-statistics/facts-and-statistics-overview/facts-and-statistics
- Join the registry by texting TeamAndrew to 61474
Or, visit AADP
- You must be 18 to 44 years old and meet general health requirements
- Complete the online consent form and a swab kit will be mailed to you
- Be committed. Be ready to donate to any patient in need when you are informed that you are a match.
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