Campus & Community

Cancer Society holds minority marrow drive

2 min read

The Harvard Cancer Society and the Asian American Brotherhood are working with the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) to recruit more minorities for the National Marrow Donor Registry. Each year, more than 30,000 children and adults in the United States are diagnosed with life-threatening blood diseases like leukemia. For many of these patients, a marrow or stem cell transplant is the only chance for a cure.

Yet such procedures are only possible when patients find donors with matching tissue types. Thirty percent of the patients in need will find a matched donor within their family. The remaining 70 percent will turn to the NMDP’s registry of volunteer marrow and stem cell donors in the hopes of finding a match.

The problem now, however, is a critical shortage of minorities on the registry. At any given time there are 4,000 patients searching the registry for a match. The chances of finding a match are generally lower for African-American, Asian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic, and American Indian patients. Currently, 80 percent of the registered potential donors are Caucasian, leaving only 20 percent of donors to represent all minorities. For minorities fighting fatal blood diseases, these are not encouraging figures.

Minority volunteer donors are desperately needed. All it takes is about 15 minutes and a small sample of blood to have the extraordinary opportunity to save a life. Donors will be informed and tested for free.

The Harvard Minority Bone Marrow Drive will take place on Monday, April 23, and Tuesday, April 24, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Loker Commons, Room 038.

For more information, e-mail Emily Gerson at