Updated 02/12/2009 06:21 AM
Organizations urge African Americans to become marrow donors
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Millions of people are registered in the national bone marrow registry. But of that group, only a small percentage are black or African American.
"We are trying to reach out to the African American community because of the seven million people on the registry, only eight percent are African American and we need more people to join the registry to save more lives," said Paula Miller, the executive director of the William G. Pomeroy Foundation.
Most people won't find bone marrow matches within their families, no matter what their heritage is. That's why groups like JOBSPlus! are hosting bone marrow drives to get as many people registered as possible.
"With a patient being told and the patient's family being told that because they're African American that their chances are so low, if we can offer an opportunity to relieve some of that stress by being a host site and also singing up to the registry then we welcome that opportunity," said Syreeta Williams, a technical assistant for JOBSPlus!
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A cheek-cell swab is used to get your information in to the National Bone Marrow Registry.
It doesn't take long to register and if you're called on as a donor match Miller says there are two procedures you can undergo and neither take a long time. One procedure is called aphaeresis.
"It's kind of like giving blood, but it's a longer process. And the other is an outpatient surgery which is, it's like an hour, you're under general anesthesia, you feel no pain and you may have flu-like symptoms for three or four days but after that you're back to work, you're back to school, you're feeling just like you do now and you've saved somebody's life," said Miller.
Anyone between the ages of 18 and 60 can sign up for the registry.
JOBSPlus! is holding a bone marrow drive at its office at 677 South Salina Street next Tuesday. The drive will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.