Searching for the Perfect Match - Why Diversity Matters

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Dak, a thriving four-year-old, from Dallas, Texas, who loves playing sports and spending time with his family and friends, was suddenly showing signs of extreme lethargy and a distinct change in behavior. At this point, his parents knew something was wrong. It came as a devastating shock to his family and friends when Dak was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) earlier this year, a particularly aggressive form of leukemia, causing him to spend multiple weeks in the hospital.

“It was the toughest thing I had to deal with in my entire life," says his father, Adam Lopez, thinking back on his initial reaction to Dak’s diagnosis.

Dak’s treatment option was limited to a bone marrow or stem cell transplant, which made his road to recovery a particularly arduous one. A patient’s ethnic background is imperative in predicting the likelihood of finding an unrelated match. As a patient of Hispanic heritage, contending with a lack of diversity in the donor pool, Dak had only about a 46% chance of finding his perfect match, making his chances considerably more challenging.

In hopes to increase the probability of finding a lifesaving donor, DKMS and Dak's family hosted five drives (four in-person events, one virtual) registering over 650 potential lifesavers.

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