November 10, 2009
Be The Match® and several leading Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are partnering to save lives. Today, they launched Say It Loud! Save Lives and Be Proud!,a program that will raise awareness on HBCU campuses about the pressing need for African American marrow donors.
To help improve the chances that African Americans in need of a transplant can find a matched donor, the Say It Loud! Save Lives and Be Proud! program will engage HBCU communities through public awareness efforts and donor registry drives, where students can join the Be The Match RegistrySM as potential marrow donors. Student volunteers will help educate and spread the word about marrow donation throughout their campuses.
Thousands of patients could be saved by a marrow transplant. For many patients with life-threatening diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma or sickle cell anemia, a marrow transplant from an unrelated donor is their best or only hope for a cure. These patients depend on the Be The Match Registry to find a match. Patients are more likely to match a donor from their own race or ethnicity, yet out of a registry of millions, less than 10 percent are African American. Finding a matched donor can also be challenging because African Americans are more genetically diverse.
Central to the program is the Say It Loud! Save Lives and Be Proud! Web site, hbcu.bethematch.org. The site features the stories of patients and African Americans who have saved lives through donating marrow. Blogs, video, networking, and other features will provide information about the program and marrow donation. The network can be accessed by all HBCU students, alums, staff and faculty.
“Say It Loud! Be Proud and Save Lives! is a prime example of how lives can change when people rally around a worthy cause,” said Congressional Black Caucus Member and home state representative for the National Marrow Donor Program, U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minn.). “I’m proud to support the work of Be The Match and am excited to see how many lives are saved – especially related to the great need of more African American donors – by the work done on HBCU campuses across the country.”
One supporter knows firsthand how important it is for more people, especially African Americans, to register to be a marrow donor. Ashante Sloan, an HBCU alumna of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, was diagnosed with aplastic anemia in 2008 and needed an unrelated marrow transplant to survive. Sloan’s doctors were able to find a donor on the Be The Match Registry, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), and she recently received her transplant. Now, Ashante is sharing her story with others on the Say It Loud! Save Lives and Be Proud! Web site, hbcu.bethematch.org.
The program is building on the success of an effort to raise awareness on HBCU campuses. To date, several HBCU students and alumni, including graduates from Claflin and Shaw Universities, have already answered the call and donated marrow to extend the lives of patients in need.
“We are excited about the students' enthusiasm and value their support in creating this program – everything from selecting the name to supporting the launch,” said Barry Huff, vice president, marketing and communications for the NMDP. “We believe by targeting individuals at the grassroots level on campus and in the community we will better inform, engage and motivate students, administrators and the community at large to join or support the Be The Match Registry, giving more patients a second chance at life.”
About Be The Match
Be The Match is a movement that engages a growing community of people inspired to help patients who need a marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), a leader in the field of marrow and cord blood transplantation, created Be The Match to provide opportunities for the public to become involved in saving the lives of people with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases. Volunteers can join the Be The Match Registry – the world’s largest and most diverse listing of potential adult marrow donors and donated cord blood units – as well as contribute financially to Be The Match Foundation or give their time. Be The Match Foundation supports the NMDP by raising funds to grow the Be The Match Registry, help patients with transplant costs and advance medical research. Since operations began in 1987, the NMDP has provided more than 35,000 transplants to help give patients a second chance at life. For more information, visit BeTheMatch.org or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.