July is African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month

Posted June 28th, 2012 by Be The Match and filed in News, Patient Stories
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Eleven-year-old Valaria Fenderson of Atlanta is quietly fighting for life while waiting for the bone marrow transplant that could cure her sickle cell anemia. Her battle against this inherited blood disorder – which most often strikes Africans and African Americans – has kept her in pain and taken her in and out of hospitals for most of her young life.

Today, a bone marrow transplant is Valaria’s only hope for a cure. According to her mother, like many African Americans who need transplants, Valaria doesn’t have a matched bone marrow donor.

Established in 2009 by the U.S. Congress, Be The Match® is recognizing African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month throughout July to raise awareness about the critical need for African Americans to join the Be The Match Registry®.

Patients usually find a suitable donor in someone with a similar ethnic background. But just 7 percent of the nation’s 10 million registered potential bone marrow donors are African American.

To improve this number, Be The Match is hosting registry events nationwide to encourage more African Americans to step forward and join the Be The Match Registry. Patients and donors from cities across America will also travel to Washington, D.C. on July 18 to meet with members of Congress. These advocates will share their personal stories and encourage Congress to continue its support of the program.

Read more about these efforts.

90 Responses to “July is African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month”

  1. bev byron says:

    I am African American i have my info in your registry. What else do i need to do to help Valeria?

    • Vince says:

      I think they want us to spread the word to others about her story, so others will join the registry. The more people they have to choose from, the better chance she will have. May our Father above bless you and Valaria.

  2. Charles McCray says:

    I would like to donate. My information is already in the registry. What else do I need to do to donate?

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  3. Michael Redding says:

    I would like to help Valaria if I am a match. My info is also in the donor registry and I am a Georgia resident.

  4. Angela says:

    I would love to donate if I am a match. My information is on the donor registry. God Bless You And Your Family!

  5. Temi says:

    I would really like to help Valaria. My information is in the registry. Please let me know if I am a match or how I can help. Our prayers are with you Valaria!

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  6. Amy says:

    I am also in the registry and would like to help. Please look me up and let me know what I can do, God Bless

  7. Drew says:

    My wife is African-American, and is also on the registry. Please let me know if we can help!

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  8. Natalie Jefferson says:

    I have been in the registry for over 15 years and would love to be able to help Valaria. I am praying that you will have a match very soon!

  9. DEJA HATCH says:

    I AM AFRICAN-AMERICAN AND WOULD LOVE TO HELP HER!! PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF I CAN!!

  10. Dianne Moore says:

    I am an African-American in great health and would love to help Valeria. I am a register bone marrow donor and need to know how to help.

  11. Lori says:

    For all of you generous people who are already on the Be The Match registry and would like to help Valeria, good for you. You have taken the first step in helping someone like her. If you are already on the registry, you have been checked to see if you match and, so far, no one has matched her. If you would like to help in another way, talk to your family and friends and see if they would be willing to sign up for the registry. The more people who sign up (especially people of color) the better chance we have of saving lives! Thank you for your commitment to Be The Match.

  12. Deandre says:

    I am African American, living in nearby South Carolina. My info is in the registry and will donate if there’s a match. God Bless Val and her family.

  13. Dave Allen says:

    I too am in the registry to long to rember. If I can help; then let’s make it Happen!

  14. Monique Lewis says:

    how can I find out if Im a match

    • admin says:

      Hi Monique,

      You can find out if you are a match by joining the Be The Match bone marrow registry. You can register online here: http://marrow.org/Join/Join_Now/Join_Now.aspx. Thanks for your support!

  15. Pamela Bradley says:

    Please check to see if Im a match

  16. Denita Thompson says:

    I HAVE BEEN A REGISTERED PARTICIPANT FOR MANY YEARS. UNFORTUNATELY I HAVE NOT BEEN CONTACTED SAYING THAT I AM A MATCH. I HOPE EVERY EFFORT IS BEING MADE TO ENSURE THAT NO MATCH GOES UNNOTICED. I HAVE ALREADY SAID A PRAYER FOR VALARIA AND ALL THOSE WHO NEED A MIRACLE.

    I WOULD LIKE TO CHALLENGE ALL OF US THAT ARE CURRENTLY REGISTERED TO COMMIT TO GETTING AT LEAST ONE PERSON TO JOIN US IN THIS FIGHT. ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE IF WE ONLY BELIEVE — GOD IS ABLE!!!

    BLESSINGS

  17. Sandra Abraham says:

    It would be my honor to help this sweet angel. Please let me know if i am a match. Valeria is such a brave little girl that needs our help. Everyone please pray for her and her family. God will hear all our prayers and he will answer them.

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  18. Alicia Kindred says:

    I am African American, living in Alabama. My info is in the registry too and will donate if there’s a match. I am praying for Valaria and her family. May God bless her.

  19. Tameka Tucker says:

    I HAVE ALSO BEEN A REGISTERED PARTICIPANT FOR MANY YEARS, SINCE 2004 TO BE EXACT & UNFORTUNATELY I HAVEN’T BEEN CONTACTED SAYING THAT I AM A MATCH & THAT TO ME IS DISTURBING SINCE THERE ARE SO SO MANY PEOPLE REQUIRING HELP ESPECIALLY AFRICAN AMERICANS W/ SICKLE CELL. I’M NOT QUITE SURE IF I’M OUT OF MY JURISDICATION BEING THAT I’M HERE IN TX, BUT I KNOW THAT THE DISTANCE ISN’T 2 GREAT FOR TRAVEL IF I AM A MATCH. PLEASE CONTACT ME IF I AM ABLE TO ASSIST IN ANY WAY.

  20. Maria Posada says:

    Hi, my name is Maria F Posada, I am not African-American, I am Hispanic, but I registry as a donator.Let me know if I match or not. I live in Jacksonville, Florida.

  21. heather wilson says:

    I am white and in the registry. I understand that Vakeria can have a white donor. I hope we have all been checked. I will encorage my African American cfriends to register if they are not already.

  22. Chi Thai says:

    I am an Asian and in registry. My information is in the registry and will donate if there’s a match. Please let me know how can I help.

    Valaria Fenderson and her family are in my daily prayers.

    With love and harmony.

  23. John says:

    Hello,

    My name is John. I would love to donate, and my info. is in the registry. My prayers are with Valaria, and her family.

  24. Hessie B. Peterkin says:

    I am on the registry and has been on there for years (since 1998). I am willing to help if i am a match. Please let me know if i match.

  25. Michele says:

    I am also in the registry in NC and have been for some time. I would be proud to donate if found to be a match. God bless and prayers are with you and your family.

  26. Gereald Williams says:

    I would like to help I am on the registry as well I am sure one of us on te registry can help Valaria and give her and family the peace that they are looking for May God be with you Valaria and your family and Remember God only gives us only so much at a time to handle.

  27. Mechelle says:

    I would like to donate, but I am not Africian American if this is a requirement.

    If not, it would be my God given honor to help one of His children. My information is already in the registry.

    What else do I need to do to donate?

    • admin says:

      Hi Michelle,

      Being African American is not a requirement to donate bone marrow. Matches are made using DNA, and while it is more likely that you will match someone with the same ethnicity as you, there is a chance you will match someone of a different ethnicity. If you are already registerd on the Be The Match registry we will contact you if you are identified as a match for a patient.

  28. DEBORAH McCabe says:

    In registry and I believe being same race is not always a sure path. My daughter had a kidney transplant when she was 13 and her donor was a young African AMerican male. The transplant team said they were almost identical and it was a great success. Waiting over a decade to pay it forward. Please check my records. Thank you

  29. les pierres streater says:

    I have been on the registry for years without being contacted to help someone else. I am willing and able to do what I can to help. If I am a match for Valaria please contact me so I can help her or anyone else.

  30. Ellis Neel says:

    What’s her blood type? Mine is A2B+. I’m in Delaware, but I’m sure details could easily get worked out.

  31. Eleanor Forman says:

    It is my understanding that African-Americans are genetically no different from whites when it comes to looking for a match, although they ARE different from Africans, statistically. It is RACIST and INACCURATE to say that African-Americans are particularly needed to help Valaria. I first joined the National Marrow Donor Program during a Minorities donor drive for an African-American, and was nearly thrown out by the other dark-skinned people in line because my skin was pale. I AM a minority, not a WASP, but you can’t tell just by looking at me. Despite this treatment, I persisted in fighting to stay, and someone who was an official part of the drive confirmed that I had the same chance of being a match as anyone else there. Although I did not match that particular person, I was contacted only a few months later for further testing. I turned out to not be the right match that time either, yet I live in hope that one day I WILL turn out to be the right one, and will be contacted all the sooner because I have had the full testing done. It is WRONG to implicitly discourage whites from getting tested to help Valaria and others.

    • Laura says:

      I agree with you. I am white and would be thrilled to be Valaria’s match. My ancestors are all Mediterranean with a splash of Northern European. The area that the majority of my family is from was conquered by Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Africans, French, Germans, and many others. We are all “mixed” and DNA is DNA no matter where you are from.

    • admin says:

      Thank you for being a committed members of the Be The Match Registry, and for your desire to support Valaria in her search for a marrow donor. Thank you, too, for sharing your concerns and giving us a chance to clarify how a person’s heritage affects matching.

      Patients in need of a transplant are most likely to match donors of their same race or ethnicity. That’s because genetic tissue types used in matching patients and donors are inherited, the same as eye and skin color. That makes racial and ethnic heritage an important indicator in searching for a match, but is not always a requirement. People of different races and ethnicities have matched.

      Some racial and ethnic groups have greater diversity in their tissue types than others, which also affects their likelihood of finding a match. For example, African Americans currently have a 66% chance of finding a suitable match on the Be The Match Registry, compared to 93% for whites.

      While we especially need to add more diverse donors to the registry, we do not discourage any eligible person from joining. Adding more people to the Be The Match Registry, and increasing the diversity of tissue types available, improves the chances of finding a match for all patients. Every person who joins the Be The Match Registry has the chance to save a life and to give every patient hope.

  32. Ty says:

    Ive done it before and I’ll do it again. How doin find out if I’m a match for Valerie ?

  33. Lucie says:

    I live in NY let me know if I am a match. My informaion is on the registry. May God Bless you Valaria! Valaria you and your family are in my prayers.

  34. Arlene Martin says:

    I live in Houston let me know if I am a match. I would love to be a match for her. My information is in your registry.

  35. victoria benson says:

    would consider it a honor and blessing if I could be a match.I’m praying for you.

  36. Ephraim Fuchs says:

    My name is Ephraim Fuchs, and I am a bone marrow transplant physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland where we are performing partially mismatched (such as parent into child) bone marrow transplants for patients with sickle cell disease. Valaria may be able to receive a bone marrow transplant from one of her parents here. Her family should call 410-955-8964

  37. Steve Parr says:

    I am not African American, but would love to help. I am on the national Bone Marrow registry, do you cross check with them? Please advise. Best wishes to you Valaria, you are an inspiration!

  38. Pita Mann says:

    I’m not African-American, but I’d love to help and so will forward this newsletter to all my African American friends and ask them to forward it to their family and friends as well. We are social workers, so I think something good will come of it.
    I’ve been registered for more than 20 years and have never been called. Maybe because my blood type is A-.
    If I could give my marrow for Valaria, or anyone else, I surely would!

  39. Dashiell Lehrman says:

    I am also in the registry and I am of mixed heritage. If there is anything I can do please let me know.

  40. Lori says:

    My granddaughter is Caucasian, Native American and African American. Her father was from Oklahoma & Nevada and her mother is from Utah. If her ethnicity mix may be a match, she will be tested. She is eighteen. We would love to help valaria.

    Lori

  41. Cathy Miller says:

    I am African American and I am a registry donor. What can I to do to help?

  42. Yolanda Silverio says:

    I am on the registry. My grandson had sickle cell anemia.

  43. El Paso Reyna says:

    The most important thing is to sign up and take the pledge to be a match, do a little swab, and then your DNA is entered into a huge database. The challenge is that you keep your information current, so many times they reach out people who signed up in years past and now for what ever reason choose not do go on or the information is not current (they have moved, changed numbers etc..) It is one thing to say you will sign up and other to keep your information up to date. I tell you from personal experience. Even siblings have a 1 and 4 chance of being a match. Some times family members are not a match and you have to go to the registry and nothing can be more frustrating that a match has been found and the donor for whatever reason has decided not to or just simply cant. False hope is so hard. So please sign up but stay committed to all and any who may need it.

  44. Valarie DuRant-Modeste says:

    I’m an African American female and I am a registry donor.
    Please let me know if I can help.

  45. Apcelon Woods says:

    I am registered as a bone marrow donor…can you please check to see if I am a perfect match for her…willing to donate if I am a match.

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon!

  46. Michelle Plummer says:

    I am an African American registry donor and would love to see if I’m a match for this precious little girl . Please let me know if I’m a match for her. Thank You

  47. Theresa Carter says:

    I am a registered donor for many years now but never received a call or email…..I’m willing and waiting!

  48. Drew Reams says:

    I too am a registered bone marrow donor and an organ donor. I want to say thank you to those who have stepped up to the plate to be a donor. May God bless you all! Valaria, we all got your back!! Stay strong my little sister.

  49. Don says:

    I have been a registered donor for over 20 yrs…my phone number hasnt changed…I am ready willing and able..

  50. Raynard Green says:

    I’m a registered donor,I reside in Atlanta. I’m hopeful the database will offer me an opportunity to share.

  51. LINDA MARABLE says:

    I WOULD LOVE TO HELP. WHAT IS HER BLOOD TYPE.

  52. Ancelia Reeves says:

    I am registered. Contact the bone marrow foundation to see if I am a match.

  53. Pat PeoplesSmith says:

    I have been on the Registry since 1980’s when a young girl in our church community was diagnosed with leukemia and several of the church members got on the Registry. None of us was a match for this precious angel and she eventually passed away. But about 5 years ago I received a call that I was a potential match for an African-American female dying of leukemia. After extensive blood work it was determined that not only did we match on several markers, but we matched on 10 out of 10 markers! I elected to donate stem cells based on the research I had read, and today that woman (a nurse) is cancer-free, back at work, and was able to see her daughter graduate from high school. I was privileged to meet her a year later. You never know when you’ll be a match, but it’s wonderful to be on the Registry and to receive that call. I live in the Atlanta area and I hope I can be a match for this little girl as well.
    By the way, if you’re on the Registry and you receive the call, PLEASE don’t say no. My recipient had 22 people say no to her before I got the call and said yes. I can’t understand why someone would be on the Registry and then decline the privilege of saving a life. If you would like to know more about my experience you can find me on Facebook in Tucker, GA. GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU WHO HAVE A DESIRE TO GET REGISTERED.

  54. Monica Pierce-Osazuwa says:

    I am an African American registered donor in Houston,TX.

  55. Esther says:

    I would like to help Valaria or anyone. I’m a marrow and an organ donor…. I’m also on the registry, I’m willing to do what I can to help…. I’ll be praying for this litter angel to get better. GOD BLESS

    • admin says:

      Thanks for your comment Esther! If you are interested in helping, you can join Valeria’s team named “Valeria Fenderson” and participate in Be The One Run Atlanta October 20, 2012, or donate to her team. Funds raised at Be The One Run help patients like Valeria get the transplant they need. Thanks!

  56. Shawntaye says:

    I just recently joined the marrow registry and would love to do anything that I possibly can to help her.

  57. Linda says:

    I have been register for many years . I would love to be able to help . I will keep valaria in my prayers and will encourage my friends to register as well. God bless

  58. Louie says:

    I have been on the donee list for about 20 years and proud of it and ready to help when called.

  59. javier says:

    HOW CAN I FIND OUT IF VALERIA AND I ARE A MATCH? I WANT TO HELP NOWWW I AM REGISTER IN WISCONSIN.

    • admin says:

      Hi Javier- you can learn more about how donors are matched to patients in need by visiting http://marrow.org/Registry_Members/A_Possible_Match/How_Donors_Are_Selected.aspx Thanks!

  60. Teri says:

    I live in Oregon, and I would never have known about this if a friend hadn’t shared it with me.
    We need a wider advertisement base to the African American community to promote causes such as this. There are so many of us willing to give whatever we can, but we need outreach in order to do so.

    I’m thankful for my friend who shared this with me. I have registered and I hope that I can help this beautiful child or another African American child that I match.

  61. Gail says:

    We may no be the ones who can match, but for those of us who are in the registry we are asking to donate if we can. I cannot donate blood (sickle-cell trait, but Caucasian–Spain Spanish ancestry) but would hope to donate marrow to help this gal or another person.

  62. Swarti R-Kumar says:

    I have been on the registry for years but have never been contacted for any bone marrow donation. Note: Only for financial donations over the years. My Niece son died from cancer of th Lymphnodes and I am not sure the exact diagnosis but no one could help him. I always wanted to help someone as I have one of the rare blood types and is in excellent health at 60. Please let me know if and when I will be needed to help same someone, regardless of who it is or where it is I will be willing to get there.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for your comment! You can learn more about how donors are matched with patients at http://marrow.org/Registry_Members/A_Possible_Match/How_Donors_Are_Selected.aspx Thanks!

  63. genesis says:

    yo soy miembro, y me gustaria saber que tengo que hacer para saber si soy compatible o no ???

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  64. Adrian Colar says:

    Hi I’m a donor with the bone morrow center n would love to help u can contact them r me at 5754200847 if u have any questions

  65. Allison Delong says:

    People seem a little confused about how this works. You may be in the registry for 20 years before your Profile happens to match with someone in need. It takes much more than the same blood type and a desire to help and you just need to be patient, hope for the chance to help and keep your info current. ALSO encourage your friends and family to sign up. It’s not that minorities are preferred in a racially biased way, but that some minorities are under represented in the registry compared to how many are in need. And because the science of how DNA works, someone is more likely to be a genetic match if they share the same race, that means if Race XYZ is 10% of the population, then it’s best to have 10% of that rece in the DNA registry so that everyone has a statistically equal chance of getting a match. The more people of ALL races registered the better. God bless all who want to help!

  66. Bryanna Davies says:

    Hi,

    I am already in the registry. I would have love to help, but I have the sickle-cell trait. I would love to help for other conditions.

    May God touch and heal you Valaria.

  67. Jonathan V says:

    Please let me know how I can help. Is there a possibility I could be a match? I am a 26yr old hispanic male. Please let me know if anyone at all is a match… please.

    Thank you.

  68. Jasmine Carter says:

    Hello,
    My name is Jasmine Carter, I am a 21 year old college student and in great health. I would love to help whether it be through donation, which would a great opportunity, or by any other means. Please contact if you can use my services. I work with kids so I have a huge heart and soft spot for Valaria.

  69. Cameca says:

    I just want to take the time to say Thank You all for your continued support! I have read each and every post, it’s you that keep our spirits up! Valaria has a foundation as well if you all would like to stay connected with her. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.

    Respectfully,
    Valaria’s Mom
    Cameca

  70. santiago mercado says:

    I’m on the list of donor, and i wish i was the perfect match for her, so i’ll be more than happy to help save her young life. god bless her!

  71. Mike Hodgson says:

    Valeria, you have my full support. I will do what God directs me to do and give it my best to help you as I know how.

    Peace & Blessings,

    Chief Mike

  72. Willie J. Thomas says:

    My information is in the registry and will donate if there’s a match. Please let me know how can I help.
    With love and peace.

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