The national Be The Match Registry® helps connect patients like me with potential donors. However, as African-Americans, we have the most diverse genetic tissue types – there may be only one person out of millions with just the right ethnic background to be a match for a patient in need of a life-saving transplant.
That’s why we desperately need more African-American donors on the registry, especially those between the ages of 18 and 44. The more people who join the registry, the more likely it is for thousands of African-Americans with life-threatening blood cancers and disorders to find a match.
I haven’t let my diagnosis stop me, but it’s undeniably changed my life. I’ve put my teaching career on hold, because being around children puts me at risk of getting sick. I’ve had more blood transfusions than you could imagine.
Still, I’m proud to say that I’m on track to graduate from my doctoral program this summer with a 4.0. My family has been a tremendous source of strength and support for me. And, I’m finding ways to turn my experience into a positive one. After meeting children and teens fighting similar diseases, I’ve been inspired to help them find ways to share their stories.
While I was lucky enough to receive a transplant, I will still do everything I can to help educate people on this amazing opportunity they have to give someone else a second chance at life.