On Wednesday, September 14th, Equilar welcomed a special guest: Yul Kwon, a Stanford and Yale graduate and winner of the 13th season of Survivor. When Kwon was a sophomore in college, his childhood friend and roommate Evan Chen was diagnosed with terminal leukemia. Kwon embarked on a nationwide bone-marrow registry push, and while a donor for Chen was eventually found, the transplant failed and he passed away two years later. Today, Kwon represents the Asian American Donor Program, which aims to find bone-marrow donors from underrepresented minority communities.
An individual in need of a bone-marrow transplant has only a 30% chance of having a sibling or relative with an identical tissue type. Those individuals who don’t have a match within their family have only one-in-100 odds of finding a match in the wider registry. Minority groups like Asian-Americans face odds of approximately one in a million, because non-white ethnic groups are less likely to be registered in the bone-marrow database.
Because Equilar has a number of Asian-American employees (myself included), we decided that our office would be an excellent source of new registrations that could potentially save the life of an individual suffering from anemia, lymphoma, leukemia, or an immune disorder. In all, Equilar was able to provide 28 potential donors from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. I’m pleased to say that over 30% of our staff registered, compared to a typical 5-10% participation rate at other firms. Though their marrow may never be needed, their participation offers hope to those waiting for a transplant.
Joining the bone-marrow registry is a simple process, requiring only a cheek swab. I encourage all readers of this blog, particularly those from diverse ethnic backgrounds, to sign up for a free at-home cheek swab package at the AADP’s website. Your participation could mean the difference between life and death for an individual in need of a transplant.No tags for this post.