Capable Hands

12 Jul

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.

No Room for Error

I’m still marveling at the accuracy of the new border.

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 TLCs 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.

To learn about volunteer and sponsorship options, and to sign up for your slot to swab your cheek and join the Registry, go to:

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.


4 Responses to “Capable Hands”

  1. Vicki July 13, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    My husband received his Be The Match card in the mail this week. What a honor it would be if he happened to match with someone. Sure wish they would consider me, but not possible for a cancer survivor. Sam Houston State University Colleges Against Cancer will have there yearly Be The Match next Spring. The young adults on our campus are making a true difference! Think about you often and continue to add you to my nightly prayers.

  2. Ted & Marcia Kunze July 13, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    Hi Jenna,
    I just had to respond to your latest entry about the shower curtain! We just showered using that curtain in May! How funny that Karen and Erin and Dan drew in the new Sudan border for you 🙂 We wish you well as you continue the work of recovery. We also enjoyed your comments on the Fourth about the fireflies.
    I thought of you on Monday because I was in New Ulm. I met three other college friends there for lunch. New Ulm is such a great town. All the best to you!
    Marcia (&Ted) Kunze

  3. Becky Boyle July 13, 2011 at 3:03 pm #


    Andy had a similar shower curtain… a daily opportunity to reminisce about the good old days in Miheve’s geography class.

    ANYWAY…I want to let you know that I am SO glad that things are going well for you. And I want to encourage you about something you should, and maybe have already, considered. I envision a published work in your future (in addition to your blog) Your journal entries are so well written… thoughtful, funny, insightful, entertaining, informational, inspiring, …you amaze me. You live and communicate your life so positively. You embody joy and hope. I “hear” you and think about all the “stuff” you endure and marvel at how you perceive your experience in context of what takes place outside of you. You make me want to be a better, more appreciative person. (I’m trying!) I think SO many people learn from you. Like I said, maybe you have already thought about this…but if not, you should.

    My best to you in all things…
    Becky Boyle

  4. Clare July 14, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    Ben had a world map on bedroom wall and one night we played the “I love you to (insert favorite country) and back.” We picked random countries from map and told each other how much we loved each other from there and back. It was probably one of the last games he and I played alone together, so it will always be my favorite.

    You’re getting better every day. Can’t wait til you and your shower curtain meet again.


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