There are few Donors for Latino Leukemia Patients
According to Be The Match, a national bone marrow registry that matches patients with donors, tissue types used in matching are inherited. This means that bone marrow matches are more likely to be between people of the same ethnic ancestry or ethnic background. Unfortunately for Latinos with cancer such as leukemia, there are not that many Latino donors. Only 11 percent of potential donors in the national bone marrow donor Be The Match registry are Latino. Maritza Mendez, a 45-year old single mother and an Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia patient, states:
I just wish the Latinos would be more involved. I see the lack of interest, I see the need to make people more aware and explain it to them to see how simple it is to save someone’s life.
Mendez is waiting for a potentially lifesaving bone marrow transplant, but there have been no matches thus far. She had been feeling sick for a month when she felt that she could no longer go on and went to the E.R., where a doctor informed her that her organs were shutting down. An international nonprofit organization called DKMS, which looks for bone marrow donors and has registered more than 7.2 million donors, has been trying to increase Latino bone marrow donations through Spanish language and Latino media. According to Be The Match, 20 percent of Hispanics are unlikely to find a bone marrow match. Family members can potentially be bone marrow matches, but only about 30 percent of patients find matches among close relatives. It is important for Latinos to donate bone marrow if possible to give patients that need a bone marrow transplant a shot at surviving their illness and to get regular checkups with a doctor.
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