Sunday, July 12, 2015

In Search of an African American Bone Marrow Donor

Did you know the African American community has the toughest time finding treatment for blood-related cancers? According to Be The, the world’s largest and most diverse listing of potential marrow donors, donating marrow can cure someone with sickle cell anemia or life-threatening blood cancers—someone like 3-year-old Judah Wilks.

When he was 11 months old, Judah was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia. A few months after his diagnosis, little Judah suffered a stroke—a side-effect of his sickle cell disease. Judah’s doctors are now pursuing a marrow transplant as his best chance for a cure, but first he needs a donor. Because he is adopted with no related siblings, his doctors must rely on the national Be The Match Registry to find a matching donor. So far, no match has been found.

When it comes to finding a bone marrow match, race and ethnicity are important factors. The tissue types used for matching patients with donors are inherited, so patients are most likely to find a match within their own racial or ethnic heritage. Although there are 9 million people on the Be The Match Registry, only 7 percent are African American.

To help spread awareness about the need for more African American donors, caught up with Judah’s dad, Bryce Wilks, to share his family’s search for a donor.

Read more: A Family’s Story: In Search of an African American Bone Marrow Donor

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