Howard University Hosts ‘Be The Match’ Marrow Registry Drive – Howard Newsroom (press release)

By raymumme

Howard University Hospital's Dr. Ermias Aytenfisu seeks to clear up misconceptions about marrow donation in the minority community.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 21, 2017) Elsa Nega is an Ethiopian-Canadian mother of two young children. She loves her children and wants to watch them grow. However, Nega has a rare form of blood cancer, leukemia, and needs a bone marrow transplant to survive.

Black patients like Nega are the least likely to find their suitable blood marrow match, according to Be The Match which is hosting a Stem Cell/Bone Marrow registry event at the Howard University College of Medicine on Wednesday, Aug. 30 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The exact location for the registry drive is the lobby outside of room 1008 in the Numa P. Adams building.

Negas story began in February when she walked into her local ER and was rushed to intensive care. By the next morning Nega was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and started on chemo immediately. Unlike 90 percent of patients who go into remission after the first round of chemo, she did not.

Now, after three rounds of chemo, a bone marrow transplant is her only hope of recovery. Negas siblings were not a match and she is reaching out to the Washington region because of its large population of people of Ethiopian descent.

There are a lot of myths associated with marrow donation, said Amanda Holk, community engagement representative with the Be The Match in Washington, D.C. There is so much fear surrounding the process but most donors are back to work the next day.

ErmiasM. Aytenfisu, M.D., stroke medical director at Howard University Hospital said the most common way to donate bone marrow is through a procedure called peripheral stem cell donation. No surgery is involved. Donors receive medication to increase peripheral stem cells before the donation. On the day of donation, blood is removed through a needle on one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood-forming cells. Uncommonly marrow donation involves surgical techniques that use a special needle to take out blood forming cells. During the procedure, the patient is anesthetized and feels no pain.

Joining the bone marrow registry at the Howard University College of Medicine event involves a simple as a cheek swab and an application. A persons chance of being a match at that point is only 1 in 500. But, for a patient like Elsa, you could be the only one. Elsa does not have a single match on the registry although there are 30 million people signed up.

For more information, contact Amanda Holk via email or 202-875-9987

For the Howard University registry drive, please note that you must be between the ages of 18 and 44 to join the registry since research has shown that the younger the cells, the better the patient outcomes. And the following conditions prevent you from joining:

Hepatitis B or C


Organ, marrow or stem cell transplant recipient

Stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack)

Other upcoming local events to support Elsa Nega:

*Empower the community (The Helen Show)

Date: 08/26/2017 (Sat.)

Location: Washington Convention Center

*Ethiopian Day Festival

Date: 09/03/2017 (Sun.)

Location: Downtown Silver Spring

About Howard University Hospital

Over the course of its roughly 155-year history of providing the finest primary, secondary and tertiary health care services, Howard University Hospital (HUH) remains one of the most comprehensive health care facilities in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and designated a DC Level 1 Trauma Center. The hospital is the nation's only teaching hospital located on the campus of a historically Black university. For more information, visit

Howard University Hosts 'Be The Match' Marrow Registry Drive - Howard Newsroom (press release)

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