Preserve Our Legacy, an organization that raises awareness about the need for minority donors, is working to get 25,000 new donors on the marrow registry in hopes that one of them will be a match for 10-year-old L.J. Jones, who suffers from a rare form of leukemia, and save his life. Visit www.preserveourlegacy.org to find out what you can do to help L.J. or someone else in need of a bone-marrow transplant.
When BET.com first introduced you to L.J. last year, he was notable not because he had a record-breaking song or popular video, but for the sad reality that he suffers from a rare, progressively fatal blood disease called hypereosinophilic syndrome, characterized by overproduction of white blood cells, which damages internal organs and issues.
Out of the only 50 people in the country who've been diagnosed with this illness, L.J. is the only child with the disease. He's been through numerous rounds of chemotherapy to manage its progression, but it's going to take a bone-marrow transplant to save his life. There is only about a 40 percent chance that a relative will be a marrow match, leaving people with marrow diseases like L.J.'s to rely on the generosity of strangers for help.
BET.com readers and viewers of 106 & Park have an opportunity to make a direct impact on L.J.’s life—and the lives of many more who wait for marrow transplants—by registering to become a donor. If you are in good health and over the age of 18, then you’re eligible to be a marrow donor.
L.J. will appear on a special episode of 106 & Park on Wednesday, and hosts Terrence and Rosci will take the bone marrow compatibility test live on the air.
L.J.'s background—mixed African-American, Latino, and Native American ancestry—makes his case particularly daunting. The complicated genetic makeup of patients with Black and Latino mixed ancestry makes finding marrow matches more difficult than it is for white patients. The odds of finding a match are even more slim because, with very few Blacks signed up to be donors, the pool of potential matches is low. Currently, 83 percent of African-Americans who need transplants never find a match after six months of searching.
Image: Courtesy of Brett Melius