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you can help too

this was posted over at kimchi mamas today:

I would like to introduce myself. My name is Fred Cross. I am a professor of genetics at the Rockefeller University, of Caucasian background, married to Elizabeth Kim, who arrived from Korea at the age of 12. We have a son, Sam, who is currently a senior at Harvard. Over the winter break he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. He has been undergoing extensive chemotherapy. It is possible that a final cure for this deadly disease may require a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, even though there are currently more than 7 million donors registered internationally, none are an exact tissue typing (HLA) match for Sam, since he has a relatively rare Caucasian haplotype from me and a more typical Asian one from his mom. Therefore, the most likely source for a perfect match for Sam are people with both Caucasian and Asian ancestry (1/2, 1/4 or 3/4 Asian could all be fine).

Since your organization is interested in issues arising from mixed race and culture, I am writing to ask if there are any of your members who might be interested in registering as bone marrow donors. Registering as a potential donor is completely painless, involving filling out a form and taking a cheek swab. Most potential donors are never asked to donate, but the donation process itself involves only some moderate inconvenience and possible discomfort, and of course has the potential to save a life. The removed stem cells are rapidly regenerated by the donor’s body so there are no medical consequences at all for the donor.

Kits for registering as a potential donor are available from DKMS Americas including a pre-paid FedEx package for returning the material. DKMS Americas will provide HLA testing and entry into the registry for absolutely anybody independent of racial or ethnic background, for no fee.

DKMS Americas will also help you organize a local drive if you are at all interested in doing this. Mostly they need a local contact person.

Another organization that will provide kits through the mail, and that also helps organize drives, is AADP. AADP specializes in people of Asian or part-Asian extraction.

Sam is registered on Facebook, and you can also get some information about him on a website generated by his uncle: http://www.helpsamiam.com.

I would like to emphasize that our interest here extends way beyond just finding a donor for our son. In the U.S., only about a fifth of patients needing bone marrow transplants can find donors, and this problem is particularly acute for those of mixed racial backgrounds, due to differing distributions of HLA types among human sub-populations. We encourage people of all ethnic backgrounds to register.
i just ordered home test kits from aadp for me and blair. this particular plea really struck a nerve in me: what if one of our children needed help one day? what if i needed a donor? would we be able to find a match in time? whether you're ethnically mixed or not, take a minute to order your own in-home donor test kit. you might just save my child's life one day. or hopefully someone like sam.

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