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.