Streams

Efforts to Save Tot in Need of Bone Marrow Match Come to Chinatown

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A section of a bone marrow embolus. (Pulmonary Pathology/flickr)

The nationwide effort to save a 2-year-old California boy is coming to Chinatown this weekend.

Jeremy Kong, a Chinese-American toddler from San Francisco, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in June and has been searching for a bone marrow match ever since. He is considered high-risk.

The search is complicated by how few Asian donors are registered with the National Marrow Donor Program. People of Asian, African and Hispanic descent tend to have very complicated gene sequences, also making it difficult to find a match.

“We’ve got such a beautiful array of people here in the U.S., but then you look at that and these are complicated genomes, they’re complicated genetic sequences, so that’s what makes it so difficult to actually match one another,” Nadya Dutchin, a national account executive with Be the Match, told WNYC.

The Asian-American Donor Program, which works to recruit donors in all ethnic communities, is holding a bone marrow donor registration drive Sunday in at Sara Roosevelt Park in Chinatown.

A match is Jeremy’s “only hope for long-term survival,” the group says.

The best bet for a bone marrow match is a full-blooded sibling. More than 10 million people are registered with Be the Match.

Asian-Americans or Pacific Islanders have a 73 percent likelihood of finding a donor match on the Be the Match Registry, compared to 93 percent for White patients.

African-Americans have a 66 percent chance and Hispanics have a 73 percent chance.

For more information go to marrow.org or aadp.org.

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