A FATHER’S PLEA

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Minority Volunteer Blood Stem Cell Donor Needed For Life-saving Transplant

Joseph Grimsley, a 35-year-old father of three, was recently diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). He is now undergoing chemotherapy treatments until an unrelated volunteer blood stem cell donor can be identified since no one in his family was a compatible DNA match. Joseph’s doctor has done an initial search with the National Marrow Donor Program Registry, (NMDP), a non-profit corporation that manages the un-related donor stem cell Registry in the United States, but to date no donor has been identified as a compatible match for Joseph. .  Kids Beating Cancer, the only authorized Donor Recruitment Group in the Southeast United States for the National Marrow Donor Program, is one of nine authorized Donor Recruitment Groups nationwide, and the only non-profit of its kind in the State of Florida has taken on the challenge to identify a volunteer donor for Joseph and others like him who are searching for a compatible match.

Thousands of adults and children like Joseph suffer from one of seventy-two life threatening diseases, such as leukemia, aplastic anemia, and sickle-cell anemia, which a blood stem cell transplant can cure. Their best hope for life is a transplant of healthy stem cells donated from a suitable donor.  Stem cells are immature cells that develop into red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets located in our bone marrow.  A transplant requires matching certain tissue traits of the donor and patient.  Although it is possible for a patient to match a donor from any racial or ethnic group, the most likely match is someone who shares a similar heritage.

Because there simply aren’t enough minority donors on the National Registry, it is hard for Joseph to find someone whose DNA typing matches his exactly.  “Of the 6 million volunteers on the National Registry, less then 8% are African American” states Margaret Guedes, CEO and Founder of Kids Beating Cancer. By giving a simple inner cheek cell swab test to identify your tissue or DNA typing, you could help someone who has a disease that can only be cured with a blood stem cell transplant.
Through community and national support, Kids Beating Cancer offers the sophisticated and expensive DNA testing necessary to identify compatible donors for FREE.  The organization is asking local churches, civic and community organizations, corporations and schools to host a donor recruitment drive in celebration of Black History in an ongoing effort to increase and diversify the national registry giving more patients hope for a second chance at life. With the help of the Central Florida community, Kids Beating Cancer can continue to identify volunteer blood stem cell donors for children and adults locally, nationally, and internationally in need a transplant to cure their disease.
For more information on becoming a blood stem cell donor contact Kids Beating Cancer at (407) 894-2888 or visit www.kidsbeatingcancer.com.

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