Josh Biyoyouwei suffered a stroke when he was barely 2 years old. The cause: sickle cell anemia, an inherited blood disorder. Now 7 and wheelchair-bound, Josh faces a high probability that another stroke will strike—unless he receives a bone marrow transplant.For patients battling more than 70 diseases, including sickle cell anemia and blood cancers like leukemia, a bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant can be a cure. Patients are most likely to match someone who shares their ancestry. But like many African Americans in need of transplants, Josh hasn’t found a matching donor.
That’s why Be The Match® is raising awareness about the critical need for more African Americans to volunteer as potential donors this July, which is African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month. Be The Match is the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on saving lives through bone marrow and umbilical cord blood transplantation.
In the last three years, efforts during African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month have added nearly 10,000 African Americans to the national Be The Match Registry®, giving patients everywhere more hope for a cure.
But the need remains great. African American patients still have the lowest odds of finding a matching donor compared to all other populations. They also have the most diverse tissue types, which makes the matching process even more challenging.
This year, Be The Match will host bone marrow donor registry drives across the country, and a special online promo code, “AABMAM,” can be used to join the registry online by visiting Join.BeTheMatch.org/AABMAM. A dedicated landing page (BTMItsOnYou.org) shares the real facts about bone marrow donation—confronting common myths that donation is painful or costly—along with showcasing inspiring stories of real people who have donated bone marrow or received a life-saving transplant.
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