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Surviving Cancer While Being Ethnically Diverse

Celebrating Diversity

We live in a world that is becoming more ethnically diverse.  This diversity makes everyone of us richer in experience, knowledge and understanding.  Everyday we observe different cultures, practices, foods, and religions. We recognize people for who they are, with different skin color, dress and speech.  

We understand that diversity makes each one of us unique.

We celebrate it.  We honor our heritage and our own ethnic background.  We tell stories and share traditions with our sons and daughters, and we reflect on the uniqueness that makes us who we are.  

The Challenge

For patients suffering from a blood cancer like leukemia, lymphoma or sickle cell, being ethnically diverse can challenge their survival.

70% of patients in need of a bone marrow or stem cell transplant, do not have a matching donor in their family. As a result, they rely on the NMDP registry, managed by Be The Match, to find a potential donor, a matching donor.

The best chance for a match is to find someone of similar ethnic ancestry who is willing to donate stem cells or bone marrow.

Unfortunately, many ethnicities are currently underrepresented on the registry, making it more difficult for those patients to find their match.

The Icla da Silva Foundation focuses on adding more ethnically diverse donors to the Be the Match registry. We strive to educate and inform more people about the importance of adding yourself to the registry, and giving more hope to patients who are searching for a potential donor.

 

Answering The Challenge

There are 3 common questions regarding becoming a potential donor, and giving a patient a second chance at life.

A. Is It Difficult?

Joining the registry to be included in patient searches is easy. Click any of the links on this page, set up an account with email and password, and answer a few questions. A swab kit will be sent to your home. Once you swab the inside of your cheek and return it to Be the Match, you are entered into the registry and included in patient searches.

Everyone should do it.

The total registration process takes about 8 minutes…10 minutes if you type slow like me.

B. Is It Scary?

There has been a lot of misinformation about bone marrow donation in movies and popular culture.

None of it is true.

There are two ways to donate bone marrow, (1) the more common PBSC method, performed at an outpatient clinic, and (2) a donation performed surgically, at a hospital.

  1. 80% of donors make their donation through PBSC (stem cell donation), which is a non-invasive outpatient procedure. PBSC donors receive daily injections of a drug called filgrastim for five days, to increase the number of blood-forming cells in the bloodstream. Then, through a process called apheresis, a donor’s blood is removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood-forming cells. The remaining blood is returned to the donor through the other arm.
  2. 20% of donors do so with a surgical procedure done under general or regional anesthesia in a hospital. While a donor receives anesthesia, doctors use needles to withdraw liquid marrow from the back of the pelvic bone.

C. Is It Expensive?

The cost to donate bone marrow or stem cells is 100% free and doesn’t utilize your insurance. Be the Match will make sure that you have everything you need to donate. Whether it’s a ride to a transplant center, a letter explaining your donation to your employer, or help with childcare, Be the Match will be there for you.

Consider A Simple Solution

Join the Registry

Everyone can become part of the solution by joining the Be The Match registry. Inform your family and friends about the importance of adding themselves to become potential donors. You may become a life saver to a patient in need, a patient who does not have a match.

What would you do if you were faced with the challenge of dealing with a blood cancer like leukemia or sickle cell? Where would you go to search for a matching donor? How would you find someone who shares a similar ethnic background to you? There are over 14,000 patients who currently need a matching donor. Many will not survive because they can’t find someone like them, someone like you.

Remember, ethnically diverse patients are not well represented on the registry. If you are ethnically diverse, you are the only one who can change this fact.

JOIN THE REGISTRY

If you have already registered, thank you. There are other ways that you can help us add more diversity to the registry.

Host A Drive

Are you involved with a group or organization that is ethnically diverse? Join forces with us and host a donor drive at your school, work, or social organization.

We do all of the work, you just have to make the introductions.

HOST A DONOR DRIVE

Volunteer

You can also volunteer, and work with us to make our donor drives bigger, better and more inclusive.

BECOME A VOLUNTEER

The Donation Process

Still have questions about the donation process?

DONATION PROCESS

Please join the registry and give greater hope to patients in need, it’s their only chance for survival.

Remember, you may be someones cure.

Sign Up. Save a Life.

JOIN THE REGISTRY TODAY

 

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We Remember the Tate Family

Last month was National Sickle Cell Awareness Month.  In recognition, we remember the courageous Tate family from Maple grove Minnesota.

The first two daughters of Yalonda and Gary Tate both had sickle cell anemia.  The life threatening disease meant bi-weekly trips to the hospital for blood transfusions and follow up visits for both girls.  People with sickle cell disease have abnormal hemoglobin in their red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen throughout the body.  When the cells are irregularly shaped, like sickles or crescent moons, the cells can get stuck and are not able to carry adequate oxygen throughout the body.  Sickle cell disease is most common among people of African descent.  The only cure is a matching bone marrow transplant.

Madison, the oldest daughter (now 23), had a bone marrow transplant in 2004, which failed.  The doctors told the Tates that a sibling bone marrow match was their best hope.  Since their daughter Olivia was also sick, she was not an option for a transplant.

The Tates decided to have another baby.  They went through in vitro fertilization, testing Yolanda’s eggs until they found one free of the sickle cell trait.  In November of 2005, the Tates gave birth to their 3rd daughter, Quinnlyn.  At the age of six months, Quinnlyn gave her oldest sister Madison a gift of life.  Stored stem cells from her umbilical cord were used in a transplant, giving life to her older sister.

Olivia (now 19) was also in need of a matching bone marrow transplant.  Fortunately, a 100% match was found.  The donor, Sidnei Barbosa, had registered to become a donor through the Icla da Silva Foundation.  The foundation is the largest recruitment center for the Be The Match registry, focusing almost exclusively on patients with a racially diverse background.

Joining the registry, especially for people from minority communities, is important. Olivia Tate was extremely fortunate to find a match to her blood type, but there just aren’t enough potential donors of African decent on the registry.  The African American community is underrepresented, which makes it more difficult to find a matching donor.  You can register here and help save a life.

Four years ago, Olivia met her donor for the first time at the Icla da Silva Foundations Hope Gala in New York City.  You can view the heart-warming story here:

The Icla da Silva Foundation is holding their 25th Anniversary Hope Gala on October 18, 2017.  At the Gala, there will be another special meeting between a patient and her donor.  You can donate here to help us continue our mission of saving lives by recruiting bone marrow donors and supporting patients and their families with diseases treatable by marrow transplants.

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