Stem cell transplants can be the best or only treatment for patients fighting blood cancers like leukemia as well as approximately 70 other conditions. For patients in need of a transplant, around 70% will have to find a donor outside of their family. Unfortunately, ethnic disparities exist in finding a matching donor. White patients have a 79% chance of finding a match, that number drops to 48% for Hispanic/Latino patients, and drops even further to 29% for African American patients.
DKMS is hosting a media event where you’ll have the chance to hear stories from community members who have been directly impacted by stem cell transplantation and learn why it is so important for everyone, especially people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, to get registered as potential donors. There will be an opportunity for one-on-one interviews with the speakers after the formal remarks.
After losing her childhood best friend to Sickle Cell Anemia, Jasmine registered as a potential donor at a DKMS donor drive at Wingate University. A few years later, she got the call that she was a match for a young girl also battling Sickle Cell and was asked if she would be willing to donate her blood stem cells. Without hesitation, Jasmine said yes and went on to save that young girl’s life. Jasmine will speak on what being a donor means to her and how her donation experience has impacted her life.
As a transplant physician, Dr. Shah works with patients in need of stem cell transplants every day. The reasons for their transplants vary, but the commonality between them is that they all must find a matching donor. Unfortunately, too often for the patients he treats, a match will not be found. This reality is even more common for patients of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Dr. Shah will speak on why it is so important for everyone to register as a potential donor.
In 2018, Kristi was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a form of blood cancer. After chemotherapy, her doctors told her that she would need a stem cell transplant. Having worked in the hospitality industry for two decades, Kristi had an amazing support system who provided her and her family with nourishing meals while she went through treatment. Kristi was fortunate enough to find a donor through DKMS and is now doing well. She will speak about how her experience inspired her to create her own non-profit, Feast for Good, to give back to the community by providing other cancer patients in the Charlotte area with locally sourced, healthy meals.
Dr. Neujahr will provide some background on what DKMS is and speak on our organization’s efforts to increase diversity in the global donor pool through international expansion. She will also share how easy it is to get registered and provide ways that members of the community can make an impact.
DKMS is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to the fight against blood cancers and other blood-related illnesses by inspiring people around the world to register as blood stem cell donors. The donor journey begins with a simple swab of the cheek which can be the action that leads to a second chance at life for a patient in need. Additionally, DKMS works closely with patients and their families, from diagnosis to transplant and beyond. Originally founded in Germany in 1991 by Dr. Peter Harf, DKMS has entities in South Africa, Poland, Chile, the United Kingdom, the United States, and India. The U.S. office was started in 2004. Globally, DKMS has registered over 11.5 million people and facilitated over 105,000 transplants.