NAACP’s Bone Marrow Drive Finds Fourth Match

Kevin Weston is a 44-year-old new media journalist living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is father to 1-year-old Lelah, stepfather to 16-year-old Aminah and the husband of Lateefah Simon. As a long-time mentor to aspiring journalists of color, Kevin’s life has touched many. Now, Kevin and his family need our help. In August 2012, Kevin was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of leukemia. A bone marrow match can help save his life. Kevin is African-American.  Only about 8% of the nation’s 10 million registered bone-marrow donors are Black, which makes his chance of finding a bone marrow match quite slim.

We all have the power to save a life. The NAACP and its Health Committee have been committed to helping bring awareness to causes that make a difference. At the 2010 NAACP National Convention, a bone marrow drive was held to help raise awareness and make a difference in people’s lives. Since the convention there have been four different bone marrow matches thanks to the people who registered. 

The first two matches were found back in April of 2011 for a 23 year old female diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia and a 63 year old male who was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Disorder. A few months later in July of 2011 a 45 year old male with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia found a match as well. Then, as of January 3, 2013, a 67 year old female with Myelodysplastic Disoder was the 4th match identified due to the NAACP's bone barrow drive in Kansas City during the 2010 National Convention. 

The NAACP is not new to championing the cause of bone marrow transplantations. The Association’s history and partnership with the National Marrow Donor Program began in 1996. Together their efforts led to the increased the number of potential donors to more than 300,000 people.They were able to impact transplant education and increase the number of potential donors across the country.

But the work of the NAACP ceases to stop and the process of registering for bone marrow donors  is becoming easier, painless, and more time efficient. Swab a Cheek, Save a Life is an organization dedicated to finding matches for bone marrow transplants and raising the awareness amongst minorities to increase the registry. The following is a breakdown of donors in the national bone marrow registry, by race *:

  • 73% White
  • 9% Hispanic or Latino
  • 8% African American or Black
  • 7% Asians
  • 3% Multiracial
  • 1% American Indian/Alaska Native

*National Marrow Donor Program, cited in Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2009.

The statistics are both startling and horrifying. If a Black, Latino, Native American or Asian child, for example, needed a bone marrow transplant to live, that child would have a less than 18% chance of finding a match. If that same child were White, he/she would have a greater than 85% chance of finding a life-saving match.

Help save a life and make a difference. Sign Up for Swab a Cheek, Save a Life: A Campaign of the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation to help increase the number of minorities in the bone marrow registry.