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Be The Match Turns to HBCUs to Change the Odds (1372 hits)

African American Patients Only Have a 23 percent Chance of Finding a Life-Saving Blood Stem Cell Donor Compared to 77percent for White Patients

Be The Match On Campus college chapters formed to help more African Americans find a cure for life-threatening blood cancers and blood disorders

Prairie View A&M University senior Lauren Ashley Ward never realized a lecture in a biology research class would lead to her saving someone’s life. After a class presentation by Be The Match in 2017, Ward learned that African Americans are the least represented ethnic group on the Be The Match Registry®¬—with only 4 percent of the 19 million potential blood stem cell donors identifying as African Americans. Patients are more likely to match the tissue type of someone who shares their ethnic background, so without more African American donors, African American patients are at a disadvantage.

“I felt obligated to join the registry because I had the opportunity to take action and improve the odds that a searching African American patient could find a match,” explained Ward, a biology major. “The power to change this disparity is in our hands.”

Ward was called just six months after joining the Be The Match Registry and asked to donate her blood stem cells to a one-year-old boy who was a genetic match. She said yes.

Today, Ward is the first chapter president of the newly created Be The Match On Campus chapter at Prairie View A&M. New chapters are also being launched this Fall at Clark Atlanta University, Howard University, Morehouse College, Southern University and A&M College, and Spelman College.

Because of the low number of African Americans on the Be The Match Registry, African American patients only have a 23 percent chance of finding a match compared to a 77 percent chance for a White patient. This disparity creates an urgent need for more ethnically diverse people ages 18-44 to join the registry as potential donors. Typically a donor and patient share the same ethnic background.

Joining the registry is simple. Students and faculty can visit: Bethematch.org/prairieview or text: PVCW to 61474 and complete the online registration form. Be The Match will send a swab kit with easy-to-follow instructions on how to complete the registration process at home and return the swab samples in the mail. Becoming a donor is safe, free and confidential. About 1 in every 430 U.S. Be The Match Registry members go on to donate to a patient. Only people identified as a genetic match for a searching patient are asked to donate blood stem cells.

“We are committed to diversifying the registry because every patient deserves an equal opportunity to find a cure,” said Amy Alegi, vice president, Registry Growth and Development, at Be The Match. “Lauren became a hero when she donated to save a child’s life, and she has left a legacy that her recipient and his family will treasure for a lifetime. We hope others will step up for a chance to have the same kind of impact.”
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About Be The Match®
For people with life-threatening blood cancers—like leukemia and lymphoma—or other diseases, a cure exists. Be The Match connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. People can contribute to the cure as a member of the Be The Match Registry®, financial contributor or volunteer. Be The Match provides patients and their families one-on-one support, education, and guidance before, during and after transplant.

Be The Match is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), a nonprofit organization that matches patients with donors, educates health care professionals and conducts research through its research program, CIBMTR® (Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research®), so more lives can be saved. To learn more about the cure, visit BeTheMatch.org or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.
Posted By: Reginald Culpepper
Monday, November 12th 2018 at 5:51PM
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