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Cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, Tonya Ghant suggests giving the gift of life

Tonya Ghant
Copyright © 2002 National Marrow Donor Program. All Rights Reserved.
Last Modified: December 1, 2006

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 Program® (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:

  • Register as a potential volunteer donor with the National Marrow Donor Program. Not only African American patients, but patients of all races and ethnicities search every day for a matching donor. Anyone between the ages of 18-60 and in good health can become a volunteer donor. To learn more, see the National Marrow Donor Program Web site.
  • Donate blood or platelets regularly, because most cancer and bone marrow transplant patients need blood products during their treatment
  • Make a financial contribution in honor of someone you love and you can help ensure that all patients have the necessary resources to access life-saving blood stem cell transplants. Your gift to a patient assistance fund at The Marrow Foundation will cover uninsured transplant-related expenses such as housing, medications and childcare that are critical to successful treatment. Make your online contribution to a patient assistance fund, or for more information contact The Marrow Foundation at (202) 638-6601

See the story of Tonya Ghant and her marrow donor, Steve Collins, on the National Marrow Donor Program Web site.

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