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Someone like you: Latesha’s donor story

Latesha Thornhill joined the Be The Match Registry® at a blood stem cell donor recruitment event sponsored by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. As a longtime partner of Be The Match, the foundation works closely with us to grow the registry and recruit more ethnically diverse members. Last September, the foundation sponsored an incredible gift matching opportunity of up to $500,000 in recognition of World Marrow Donor Day September 17, and contributed an additional $300,000 in December. This tremendously impactful $800,000 in giving from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation is focused on expanding recruitment at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

When Latesha first joined the registry, she didn’t really think much about it. But that all changed in 2019 when she received the call from Be The Match® that she was a potential match for a patient. This time, she thought about it—a lot.

As a college junior majoring in philosophy, Latesha was right in the middle of finals and juggling a busy schedule. However, she took the call seriously and even consulted her advisor at length about the ethics and impact of saying yes (or no), and what it means to be a community member.

Ultimately, she said yes and committed to the decision to donate. “When we agree to live in a community, we make a choice to see that others succeed and do well,” she said. “This isn’t just about us.”

By the end of 2019, she completed her blood stem cell donation. Latesha praises Be The Match for support throughout the donation journey. “Be The Match has been amazing!” she said, adding that her patient navigator was a critical part of the donation journey and that the two of them formed a close-knit bond.

She hasn’t met the transplant recipient yet, but she does know the two of them share an interesting connection: Latesha’s own father had had the same type of cancer as the recipient. She remarked: “Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if he had received this gift?”

In fact, the gift of a potentially life-saving transplant from donors like Latesha is a big need right now. Patients are most likely to match a donor of their own ethnic background, but a significant inequity exists on the Be The Match Registry today. While White patients have an 80% chance of finding a fully matched, available donor on the registry, the odds shrink to just 29% for Black and African American patients. More Black and African American blood stem cell donors are needed to help increase these odds.

We are incredibly grateful to the William G. Pomeroy Foundation—and all our amazing donors, registry members and financial supporters—for joining us in the fight against blood cancer and blood diseases.

You can help provide hope to more patients by joining the Be The Match Registry or by making a contribution today. Funds are needed to help add more people to the registry and cover transportation, lodging, and other uninsured costs that can burden or prevent patients from receiving a potentially life-saving transplant.