Efforts Seek To Increase Number of Minority Bone Marrow Donors
The Tuscaloosa News on Thursday profiled Marvin and Pricilla Hinton, an Alabama couple working to encourage minorities to donate bone marrow. Historically, minorities have made up a low percentage of bone marrow donors. According to the News, the National Marrow Donor Program Registry contains more than six million volunteer donors, of which fewer than 600,000 are Hispanic and fewer than 500,000 are black.
The best match for a patient most likely comes from a donor of the same racial or ethnic group because some traits are unique to specific ancestry. The Hintons said that outreach efforts organized through church congregations are the best way to reach minorities.
In addition, the DCH Health System in west Alabama, in conjunction with the National Marrow Donor Program, is sponsoring a marrow registry drive in June. Women who give birth can also can donate stem cells from the umbilical cord or bank the cells to help treat blood diseases, the News reports (Cummings, Tuscaloosa News, 5/31).
Similar Effort in Washington, D.C.
In related news, Effi Barry, a program director for the D.C. Health Department, will be conducting her own campaign to raise minorities' awareness of bone marrow donation. Barry -- who was married to former Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry -- is scheduled to undergo a bone marrow transplant on June 15 for treatment of leukemia.
Barry's campaign will include public speaking engagements and the creation of a scholarship fund for health care students. "When it comes to donating organs, there are a lot of misconceptions out there in the African-American community," Barry said, adding, "My idea was to bring awareness to a very serious health issue" (Harris, Washington Post, 5/28).