Black Bone Marrow Donors Needed

Published November 18, 2010

Ten-year-old LJ Jones suffers from a rare, progressively fatal blood disease called Hypereosinophilic Syndrome that causes an excess of white blood cells to attack his organs.  Out of only 50 people in the country who've been diagnosed with this illness, LJ is the only child with the disease.  He's been through numerous rounds of chemotherapy to manage the progression of the disease, 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 many like LJ to rely on the generosity of strangers for help.
 
LJ's background – mixed African American, Latino and Native American ancestry – makes his case particularly daunting.  Since bone marrow tissue is genetically determined, the complicated genetic make-up of patients with Black and Latino mixed ancestry makes finding marrow matches more difficult than 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.  
 
Preserve Our Legacy, an organization that raises awareness for the need for minority donors, is working to get 25,000 new donors on the marrow registry, in the hopes that one of them will be a match for LJ and save his life.  Anyone in good health over the age of 18 is eligible to become a donor.
 
Visit www.preserveourlegacy.org to find out what you can do to help LJ or someone else in need of a bone marrow transplant.

Written by Traci Curry, BET News

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