For some patients who require a blood stem cell transplant, a perfect match on the Be The Match Registry® is right there waiting for them. But for others, like Briana, the wait can be long and disheartening.
The Difficulties of Finding a Match
Before her aplastic anemia diagnosis at 12 years old, Briana would wake up at night with very bad stomach pain. “At first my mom thought it was just menstrual cramps, but it kept happening, getting worse every time until I was screaming in pain,” she remembers.
After being admitted to the hospital, she was eventually diagnosed with aplastic anemia and told she would need a bone marrow transplant. “My dad passed away when I was four, so all of my siblings are half siblings,” Briana shares. She turned to the Be The Match Registry to find her perfect match—her potential life-saving cure. But 14 years later, she’s still waiting and here’s why: As an African American, the likelihood of Briana finding her match is only 23%.
That’s because patients are most likely to match donors who share the same ethnic background because genetic traits used to determine a match are inherited. Currently, there aren’t enough African American donors on the registry to help African American patients.
Given the current makeup of registry, the likelihood of finding a match for patients in need of a transplant ranges from 23-77% depending on ethnic background.
Hope for a Second Chance
At 26 years old, today Briana continues to live life the best she can as a mother, a daughter, a student and a photographer, holding out hope that she will soon find her match. “I’d like to work in family counseling with a goal to work for the school system,” she says. “But more importantly, I just want to be around for my son.” “A stranger could come and save my life and I would have no way to express my gratitude or to repay them.” That stranger could be you. You don’t have to be Briana’s match to give her a second chance at life. By giving to the Be The Match Foundation® you will help add new potential life-saving donors to the Be The Match Registry. And the more people who join the registry, the greater chance patients like Briana have of finding their match. As Briana says, “Blessings come in so many different forms.”