With a shortage of Hispanic blood stem cell donors, Hispanic patients in need of a transplant only have a 46 percent chance at finding a donor match – and a cure.
At the onset, one-month-old Bruno Lara had a fever that was hard to control. After two months of being in the hospital, Bruno was diagnosed with Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), an extremely rare and life-threatening immunodeficiency. His hope for a cure lies in finding a blood stem cell donor.
Right now, thousands of patients with HLH, blood cancer and other deadly diseases are desperately searching for a blood stem cell donor who could save their life. The national Be The Match Registry® offers the world’s largest listing of potential donors, but the search can still be a challenge – and it’s even harder for Hispanic patients like Bruno, due to complex genetics and a smaller pool of potential donors. Because genetic traits used to match donors and patients are inherited, patients are most likely to match donors who share their ethnic background. Unfortunately, only 30 percent of patients find a family member who is a match.
To help Bruno and other Hispanic patients urgently searching for a genetic match, Be The Match, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on saving lives through marrow and cord blood transplantation, launched a new campaign, My People. My Family. Mi Sangre., at Hispanicize Miami this week. The goal is to encourage more Hispanic people to join the registry—for Bruno and the thousands of other patients in need of matching donors. With an emphasis on awareness and registration, the campaign will focus on sharing patient and donor stories, and will partner with Hispanic community organizations nationally and in key target markets, Miami, Dallas and Phoenix, for outreach to highlight the urgency yet ease of getting involved.
“Hispanic communities demonstrate incredible dedication to family, hard work and service, helping shape our national character,” said Amy Alegi, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Be The Match. “With such a strong commitment to supporting one another, we hope that young, healthy Hispanic people will consider signing up as potential blood stem cell donors. It’s a unique opportunity to be a cure for a patient in need – someone you may not know, but who could easily be a member of your family, a friend, a neighbor or a coworker.”
Currently, Bruno is two weeks into his eight-week cycle of chemotherapy. Doctors are hoping to give him a bone marrow transplant at the end of this cycle, but he currently has no matches on the registry. Without a match, Bruno faces more chemo – and uncertainty about the future as his search for a donor continues. In addition to finding their son a life-saving genetic match, Bruno’s family hopes to educate fellow Hispanic people about the importance of joining the registry to improve the odds for the entire community.
“Our genetic ancestry helps make us who we are. Patients seeking a blood stem cell donor often find their match in someone who shares their ancestry and heritage. It’s a very special connection,” said Malena Laughlin, Community Engagement Representative, The Icla da Silva Foundation. “For the Hispanic community, the impact of registering to be a potential blood stem cell donor is simple: the more donors who sign up, the more Hispanic lives we have a chance to save.”
Joining the registry is a quick and easy process. To join the thousands who have committed to be donors if matched, new registrants can sign up from anywhere with internet access—home, work or even on the go via smartphone. To learn more, visit YouCouldBeTheCure.org/MiSangre.
About Be The Match®
For people with life-threatening blood cancers—like leukemia and lymphoma—or other diseases, a cure exists. Be The Match® connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. People can contribute to the cure as a member of the Be The Match Registry®, financial contributor or volunteer. Be The Match provides patients and their families one-on-one support, education, and guidance before, during and after transplant.
Be The Match is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), a nonprofit organization that matches patients with donors, educates health care professionals and conducts research so more lives can be saved. To learn more about the cure, visit BeTheMatch.org or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.