Filipina urgently needs bone marrow donor

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Asian American Donor Program encourages minorities and mixed heritage to join national registry

Oakland – Lisa Marie Evangelista, a 31-year-old Filipina woman who lives in Sacramento, is in a literal fight for her life. Lisa is a speech language pathologist and works at the U.C. Davis Medical Center.

On Dec. 27, 2016, she was diagnosed with Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia, a rare and aggressive blood cancer. She needs a bone marrow transplant to survive. Lisa’s sister is a 5/10 or half match. However, doctors prefer Lisa find a 10/10-donor match. To find a perfect match, Lisa needs a stranger to step forward and help save her life.

Lisa has partnered with the Asian American Donor Program to find a donor similar to her genetic makeup. A bone marrow transplant, which is needed soon, is Lisa’s only hope for her long-term survival. A committed 10/10 marrow-matching donor must be located to have a successful transplant. Since Lisa is of Filipino, a matching donor will also need to be of Filipino or Asian descent.

More about Lisa

Lisa learned about her diagnosis just nine months after her father died of a blood cancer. Family and friends note how she brings laughter, joy, warmth, and kindness to each day. Lisa is a speech-language pathologist and board certified specialist in swallowing and swallowing disorders. Her clinical interests include the evaluation and treatment of dysphagia resulting from radiation and chemotherapy treatments to the head and neck. She works directly with patients diagnosed with throat cancer. Lisa has lectured at the regional and national levels on pulmonary health and ethical considerations in dysphagia management. Lisa is described by her colleagues as a brilliant clinician and scientific thinker who is devoted to helping her patients. Lisa’s hobbies include traveling, hiking, and dancing.

Lisa grew up in Laguna Hills in Orange County, California. She attended Laguna Hills High School. From California State University, Fresno Lisa received a bachelor’s degree in 2007 and a master’s degree in 2009. Lisa received her clinical science doctorate in medical speech-language pathology from the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA in 2014.

What’s the solution?

Minorities are more likely to die of leukemia and other blood cancers because there is a shortage of ethnic and mixed-ethnic donors on the Be The Match® national registry. It is vital to expand and build a more diverse registry so everyone has an equal opportunity to survive blood cancers.

Encouraging more people of ethnically diverse backgrounds and those of mixed heritage to be committed and join the Registry, potentially saving a life.  Each of us can “Be The One to Save a Life!”

The Asian American Donor Program (AADP, www.aadp.org) is a 27-year-old nonprofit organization, based in Alameda, CA, that works to educate community members about the shortage of ethnic marrow donors and the importance of joining the Be The Match national registry. It is the oldest nonprofit of its kind in the country. AADP staff is dedicated to increasing the availability of potential stem cell donors for patients with life threatening diseases curable by a blood stem cell or marrow transplant. AADP is an official recruitment center for Be The Match.

“There is a shortage of committed non-Caucasians on the Be The Match® national registry,” says Carol Gillespie, the AADP executive director. “We need everyone of mixed race ancestry to step forward and join the Registry.  When a marrow match is not readily available, patients have to wait longer than is ideal to find a match.”   Once a match has been found, their disease may have progressed to the point that they are no longer eligible for a transplant.

Shortage of ethnic/multi-ethnic donors

Approximately every three minutes one person in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer. An estimated combined total of 172,910 people in the US are expected to be diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma in 2017. New cases of leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma are expected to account for 10.2 percent of the estimated 1,688,780 new cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. in 2017. (From: http://www.lls.org/http%3A/llsorg.prod.acquia-sites.com/facts-and-statistics/facts-and-statistics-overview/facts-and-statistics)

Of the approximately 816,000 Asians on the Be the Match® registry, .5 percent are Filipinos, while Filipino Americans constitute 19.7 percent of Asian Americans (Source: 2010 Census). The Be The Match registry recruits hundreds of thousands of donors each year through an extensive network of more than 155 local and regional Community Engagement Representatives and organizations. You only need to join the Be The Match registry once.

“Finding a marrow/stem cell match can be like finding a needle in a haystack,” says Gillespie.  “Multi-racial patients face the worst odds.  Those diagnosed with a blood disease need a marrow/stem cell transplant as soon as possible. Building the Registry with committed donors is what patients need. You could potentially match anyone in the world, this is truly a global effort.”

Marrow/stem cell matches are very different than blood type matches.  Just as we inherit our eyes, hair, and skin color, we inherit our marrow and stem cell tissue type.

“For thousands of severely ill blood cancer patients, there is a cure,” Gillespie says. “You could be the cure. Those whose marrow/stem cells are not a match for a patient in need now may be a match for someone else down the road, anywhere in the world. I encourage multi-ethnic individuals to commit to registering. It is simple to register – just a swab of the inside of your cheek.”

How you can commit to help

•  Find a registration drive in your area.  Go to http://www.aadp.org/drive/.

•  Register on line here: https://join.bethematch.org/lisa.

You must be 18 to 44 years old and meet general health requirements

•  Fill out a consent form and do a cheek swab.

•  Be committed. Be ready to donate to any patient in need.

•  Contact friends/family and encourage them to go to a registration drive or register online.

•  Set up a drive in your area or for more information, call AADP at 1-800-593-6667 or visit our website http://www.aadp.org.

•  Volunteer to help at registration drives.

Please take a few minutes of your time to learn more about how you can help save a life and register as a marrow donor.

Upcoming registration drive

• Soy and Tofu Festival, Saturday, June 17 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Open to the public at Saint Mary’s Cathedral, 1111 Gough St., San Francisco, CA 94109.

• Malayan SF Outdoor Festival, Philippine Independence Day, Sunday, June 18 from noon to 8 p.m. at Union Square, 333 Post St., San Francisco, 94102.

More about the Asian American Donor Program (AADP)

The Asian American Donor Program (AADP), with its offices in the San Francisco Bay Area, is dedicated to increasing the availability of potential stem cell donors for patients with life threatening diseases curable by a blood stem cell or marrow transplant.

AADP is a community-based nonprofit for social benefit (501©3) organization and specializes in conducting outreach and donor registration drives in and with diverse communities. AADP is an official recruitment center of the Be The Match registry.

To learn more about scheduled upcoming marrow drives, visit http://www.aadp.org/drive/.



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