July is African American Bone Marrow Awareness month, a time to raise awareness and inspire action in the fight against blood cancers like leukemia and blood disorders like sickle cell disease.
7% is not enough. African Americans are underrepresented on the bone marrow registry – accounting for only 7% of all registrants.
Heritage matters: Because a patient's best chance of finding a matching bone marrow donor is with someone of similar ancestry, African Americans with blood cancers and disorders have a harder time finding a lifesaving donor.
Let’s change this! Join the movement to save lives and increase the diversity of the registry during African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month
• Get Registered! It’s a simple cheek swab. Get started online.
• Raise Awareness: Share on social media to let your friends and family know about the crucial need to add more African Americans to the registry.
Zahara is a lively five year-old who loves singing, dancing, playing mini-golf with Mom and Dad and—believe it or not—going to the dentist. She is also one of the 1 in 500 African Americans who are born with sickle cell disease each year.
Huntar is an energetic 10-year-old girl who likes yoga, loves to read, and excels at arts and crafts. In 2013, she was diagnosed with aplastic anemia and myelodysplastic syndrome.
Zahara was diagnosed at birth. On good days, Zahara gets to live life like a regular kid. On bad days, she’s confined to a hospital bed, constantly being monitored to ease her symptoms and stay one step ahead of her sickle cell anemia. Her Mom and Dad have been very honest with her about the disease and her need for a bone marrow transplant. She knows she needs to find a donor and does her part to raise awareness by educating her kindergarten classmates and wearing a Delete Blood Cancer sticker everywhere she goes. She wants to be a doctor someday so that she can help other patients like her.
Unfortunately, she won’t achieve her dreams if she can’t find a compatible donor soon. Most patients need donors who share their ancestry. For Zahara, this is a steep challenge because only 7% of registered donors are African American. July is African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month. Celebrate it by registering as a potential donor to help patients like Zahara have a fighting chance at beating their disease.
"Mommy, am I gonna die from sickle cell if I don't get my bone marrow transplant?"
"No, honey, you will NOT die from sickle cell and we WILL get your match." -Zahara asks her mom, Kesha, about finding a match.
If not treated, her condition can develop into leukemia. A bone marrow transplant is Huntar’s best chance to live a long, healthy life, but her chances at finding a matching donor are challenging. You can help Huntar find her match by registering and sharing her story.
After 2 years of waiting, a matching donor was found for Tiffany, a spirited young girl battling sickle cell disease.
Montsho is a poet, writer, artist and musician from Austin Texas who was diagnosed with acute leukemia in 2014.
Judge Carl Fox has led a full and interesting life:
Before her transplant, Tiffany was in such crippling pain that she had to stop attending school and dance. Today she is healthy and active – she loves going to school, riding her bike and taking dance classes! Tiffany’s family continues to host drives and raise awareness to inspire more people of color to join the bone marrow registry and help more African American patients become survivors.
It was only then that he learned the challenges he faced finding a matching donor. In April, 2015, he received a half-match transplant from his half-sister, and while his health outcome is still unfolding, he wants to do something to help others. He and his family are sponsoring One Swab One Life, a bone marrow drive to be held at an African American music festival in Austin. “I’m grateful that I had another option,” explained Montsho. “I want to make sure that others also have a chance.”
In 1984, he was appointed the first black District Attorney in North Carolina. In 2005, he became Senior Superior Court Judge and holds the position to this day. He’s also well-known for baking delicious cheesecakes and giving them away to people.
In 2015 Carl’s life of dispensing justice was in jeopardy. He was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) – a condition where stem cells in the bone marrow don’t mature or become healthy blood cells. He needed a bone marrow transplant to survive, but no matching donor was found.
Carl fought his disease with blood transfusions, chemotherapy, and other treatments. He used his fight as an opportunity to shed light on the need for more African Americans to join the bone marrow registry. Currently, African Americans make up just seven percent of the registry. Because a patient’s best chance of finding a matching donor is with someone of similar ancestry, African American patients have a harder time finding a match.
Judge Fox has won his battle against MDS, but continues to raise awareness about the need for diversity on the registry. I want to make a contribution by helping to find a match for someone else,” he said. “Cancer is a word, not a sentence.
After Michael Menafee donated his bone marrow to a child last year, he was inspired to educate the public and expand the registry.
With the health of a blood cancer patient at stake, Alfred Howard would not let a blizzard get in the way of donating his life-saving stem cells.
When Tamara Walker read about Jasmina Anema – a little girl battling leukemia and searching for a donor – she knew she had to join the registry.
Michael has three drives scheduled this year and is working with his fraternity, Iota Phi Theta, to help increase awareness in the African-American community about the need for more donors of color. With donors like Michael we WILL change the odds for patients in need of a transplant! Join Michael and register to become a potential bone marrow donor today!
On January 26, 2015, Blizzard Juno created treacherous road conditions and a travel ban in much of the Northeast. But that didn’t stop Alfred Howard. He was ready, willing and able to do what was needed to make the donation happen on schedule. There was a lot of teamwork involved, and once the procedure was complete, Alfred’s donated stem cells were transported by plane across the Atlantic Ocean to help a blood cancer patient in England.
“If someone in my family needed help like this, I would hope that they would get it no matter what,” said Alfred. “I feel that I'm blessed, so why not help somebody else?"
After she joined, Tamara became a match for another patient and went on to donate her cells for a transplant in 2012. Since then she has worked to encourage more African Americans to become donors. “African Americans only represent 7 percent of potential donors on the registry. Instead of talking about change and waiting around for help, WE can be the change. We can help someone live a longer, healthier life and make more memories.” Join Tamara and register to become a potential bone marrow donor today.
It’s a simple cheek swab and only takes 5 mins!
Make a Gift
100% of your gift will help register potential lifesavers!
Share on social the crucial need to add more African Americans to the registry.
Enter the DKMS AABMAM Instagram Contest! Show your support for #DKMSDiversity and raise awareness around the need for African-American and minority donors.