Be The Match encourages people of color to join bone marrow registry – KING5.com

By daniellenierenberg

Black patients in need of bone marrow or blood stem cell treatments have a decreased chance of matching with a donor. The Seattle branch hopes to change that.

Seattles Be The Match Collection Center opened up less than a year ago and is celebrating its 100th blood cell donation with an important message: More bone marrow donors of color are needed.

The nonprofit donation center is a part of the National Marrow Donor Program and increases the capacity to collect blood cells in the Pacific Northwest. Seattles Clinical Manager Hannah Erskine said this month is an important time to focus on the donation gap.

In the midst of Black History Month, its important to note that we frankly dont have enough Black and African American donors on the registry, said Erskin.

Only 4% of approximately 22 million donors on the registry are African American, lowering the chances that a Black patient can find a bone marrow donor who is a genetic match.

According to Be The Match data, the likelihood of finding a matched adult donor is only around 23% for an African American or Black patient, versus a 77% match rate for a white patient.

These matched bone marrow or blood stem cell transplants can help cure blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, as well as other blood conditions, such as sickle cell disease. Be The Match has coordinated more than 100,000 transplants.

Erskine said registering is a simple mouth swab that will be mailed to potential donors. They will be contacted if they are a match with a patient.

Being a matching blood stem cell donor can potentially save a life. The first step in changing the trend is to join the registry at http://www.bethematch.org.

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Be The Match encourages people of color to join bone marrow registry - KING5.com

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