Razib calls attention to a life-or-death situation affecting many minorities in this country: lack of organ and tissue matches for those in need of a transplant. He highlights one man in immediate need of a bone marrow transplant:
A tragedy, in five lines;
This is Vinay and his wife Rashmi.
They were married in 2005.
He was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in 2006.
He is 28.
He needs a bone marrow transplant, in the next six weeks.
It’s easy to join the bone marrow registry. You can check out the registration and donation steps here, and pretty much anyone who’s healthy and between the ages of 18 and 60 can list themselves on the registry and be tissue-typed. I’ve been on it for a number of years, since I enrolled as part of a call for donors after a girl I used to babysit for was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It was already too late for her–she died at the age of 21 after a short battle with the disease. Unfortunately, her story is all too typical–the National Marrow Donor Program estimates that 35,000 people could benefit from marrow transplants every year, but only a small number of those actually receive them. While the best matches can come from other family members, only about a third of those in need actually find a matching relative–the rest turn to unrelated donors in the hope of a match. Even for those of European descent, the odds of finding an unrelated match aren’t great; with minorities, the odds go down considerably. (You can see the relative numbers in this publication if you’re interested).
To find a match for Vinjay, his friends and relatives have organized a number of drives (mostly in California, where he’s from), that can be found at his website. No matter where you live, however, you can find a site near you to get registered, or help in other ways. And while the call to help Vinjay is going out specifically to those of South Asian descent (since that would be his most likely match), it should be pointed out that there are still only about 10 million people registered worldwide–so people of all ethnic groups are still desperately needed.
Image from http://www.helpvinay.org/images/photos/vinay_rashmi_2007_05_31_rev_150p.jpg