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african american bone marrow donorsAfrican-Americans awaiting bone marrow transplants face a harsh reality: Of the 10 million potential bone marrow donors in the “Be The Match Registry,” only a scant 7 percent of eligible donors are African-American.

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This is why “Be The Match” launched a new nationwide campaign to help increase the numbers of African-Americans in the registry on Tuesday. Public figures such as Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins of “TLC” and “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts have raised awareness concerning the dearth of potential African-American donors.

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To help raise the awareness of the treatment of blood cancers and other conditions that may be remedied by bone marrow transplants, interested parties will be encouraged to visit SWABplusDNA.org to learn more about the donation process and to dispel myths about bone marrow donations and assuage fears some may have about the procedure. Retired NBA star and current analyst Shaquille O’Neal has joined the SWABplusDNA campaign alongside Ryan Cater, a college football player. Carter’s contribution to the registry led to a bone marrow transplant for a five-year-old boy suffering with leukemia.

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Be The Match reports that, since 2004, African-American registrants have doubled but matches are still  scarce. 66 percent of Blacks are likely to find a match, a sharp drop when compared to 93 percent of white donors who serve as good matches.

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“Be The Match has achieved some incredible milestones over the past 25 years, recently reaching 50,000 transplants facilitated and 10 million registry members. But our ultimate goal is to provide a matching donor for every patient who needs one,” said Jeffrey W. Chell, M.D., chief executive officer of the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), which operates Be The Match in a press release. “The only way we can accomplish this is by increasing the ethnic diversity on the Be The Match Registry.”

For more information, visit Be The Match.

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