Friday, January 22, 2016

The Search is On: Mixed Race Marrow Donors Needed!


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As a blogger I am frequently contacted by individuals and/or companies asking me to promote their product or cause - and if I'm being honest, few of those emails merit a response and most of them quickly find their way into my "trash" folder. After all, I don't blog to make money, nor have any of those offers included any hint of compensation for my efforts, so I prefer to focus what precious little blogging time I have on my own topics of interest.

Occasionally, though, a real gem of a message finds its way into my inbox that I genuinely feel deserves a platform. No strings attached. Cue #match4lara.

Have you heard of Lara? I hadn't, which makes me think that I could actually do some good in spreading her story. If you can spare a few minutes to watch the video, please do (you may have to click through if you're on a feed reader) - but if not, simply keep reading.

Lara, a 24 year-old living in the UK, was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia (AML) and is urgently in need of a bone marrow donor. However, Lara is half Asian. Her mixed Chinese, Thai, and Italian heritage make it difficult to find a match because only 3% of donors on public stem cell registries worldwide are mixed race. Three percent!!! 

Her only brother isn't a match, so unless we do something to help diversify our donor registries individuals like Lara have an incredibly slim chance of finding a timely match.

As the mother of half-Asian children this issue matters to me, which I'm sure is why Lara's cousin contacted me in the first place. Little did she know, though, that I have also been on my national bone marrow registry (Be the Match) for more than 8 years. 

Being on my nation's bone marrow registry is something that I care about, but I believe it has only come up one single time in conversation (other than with my husband) over the past 8+ years. Why is that? Probably, I suspect, because being informed about it and handed an opportunity to join is far less mainstream than the local registry of motor vehicles asking you about being an organ donor each time you update your driver's license. In other words: it's a cause that many people know nothing about.

So let's change that, friends.

Let's talk about HOW EASY it is to join your national bone marrow registry. Seriously. You can be registered with a simple blood test, cheek swab (how I joined), or by spitting in a test tube. If you're in the United States, just visit Be the Match online and follow their instructions. If you're outside the U.S., look for your national bone marrow registry here.

And let's talk about the fact that - despite the diversity of our "melting pot" nation - being mixed race makes it extremely difficult to find a bone marrow donor. For the sake of people like Lara and my own precious children, I want to do what little I can to help spark some change.

Let's diversify the donor registries.

Want More Information?

How You Can Commit to Help

I've copied and pasted much of the following list from the email Lara's cousin sent to me:

Now get out there and spread the word - especially if you or any of your friends are mixed race. You just might save a life!

“All of us must care for life, cherish life, with tenderness, warmth…to give life is to open (our) heart, and to care for life is to (give oneself) in tenderness and warmth for others, to have concern in my heart for others. Caring for life from the beginning to the end. What a simple thing, what a beautiful thing..So, go forth and don’t be discouraged. Care for life. It’s worth it.”

-Cardinal Bergoglio (aka the future Pope Francis), a 2005 homily

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