One of my biggest upsets about ditching DC was leaving behind my world map shower curtain.
Not only was the map a colorful addition to our bathroom, but I learned a lot. I could beat most anyone at Sporcle’s Countries of the World game (except my roommate Karen, who had the same shower curtain advantage as me). This week I was relieved to know that I had left the shower curtain in capable hands. Karen and visiting friends Dan and Erin ceremoniously divided the new South Sudan from its parent Sudan. They went so far as to play South Sudan’s squeaky-new national anthem and even represented America and China by flags at the ceremony. Too bad I wasn’t there – you can bet Germany would have been flying high, too.
There are arguably 197 countries in the world now with South Sudan, and nearly seven billion people in those countries with all sorts of hybrids of HLA types. In fact, with modern testing, there are billions of different HLA combinations possible. Because HLA is genetic, patients are most likely to match someone of their own race or ethnic heritage. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, minorities have a particularly tough time finding a match. Of the 9 million people that make up the Be The Match® Registry, only 10% are Hispanic, 7% are African-American and 3% are multiple race. (Source: National Marrow Donor Program® Key Messages, Facts & Figures)
To increase these numbers, Be The Match® is celebrating African-American Awareness Month with their STEP UP campaign. (did I mention TLC’s T-Boz is spokeswoman??) I am particularly drawn to 11-year-old Imani’s story. Like me, Imani has MDS and needs an unrelated bone marrow donor to live. Unlike me, she can’t find a match because she’s biracial (African-American and white). Imagine if you were Imani. Imagine if you were her parents.
That’s why my friend Jen is teaming up with Be The Match® to host a Marrow Donor Registration Drive at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, August 13 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. We’re looking for business or personal sponsorships, volunteers, and of course marrow donor registrants.
For all you wonderful people who have already swabbed your cheek, please invite your friends and family. Volunteer. Spread the word.
We need all of your capable hands to make sure that everyone finds their perfect match.