When I was diagnosed with leukemia, I learned that without a marrow or blood stem cell transplant, I would mostly likely die. But the best Christmas present I received the year I was diagnosed with leukemia was a gift from a total stranger ? a man who had volunteered with the National Marrow Donor ProgramÂ® (NMDP) to donate marrow or blood stem cells. Since no one in my family was a suitable donor, we turned to the National Marrow Donor Program to find a potential volunteer. Just a few days before Christmas they found a matching donor for me.
I know now how lucky I was to have found a donor. Marrow transplants require matching certain tissue traits of the donor and patient. Because these traits are inherited, the most likely match for an African American patient like me was an African American donor.
I was really surprised to hear that the NMDP had found a donor for me because I was told I had a combination of tissue traits that was uncommon.
I learned through my experience that there is a great need for donors from diverse backgrounds to join the National Marrow Donor Program Registry, so that more patients can receive this potentially life-saving treatment.
I encourage you to consider giving one of the following gifts this year:
See the story of Tonya Ghant and her marrow donor, Steve Collins, on the National Marrow Donor Program Web site.