Searching for His Life-Saving Match

Posted July 7th, 2015 by Be The Match and filed in Patient Stories
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Sheldon Mba Head ShotWhile prepping for his final high school exams, Sheldon began to feel ill. This optimistic teen from Durham, N.C., thought his lingering stomach ailments and prolonged fatigue would pass after his workload lessened and he got more sleep. But when Sheldon collapsed on his way to an end-of-year ceremony, he went to the hospital.

After several tests, doctors determined Sheldon was battling severe aplastic anemia and paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), two rare bone marrow failure disorders. His only hope for a cure is a bone marrow transplant—and his doctors have been searching for a matched donor for over two years.

Sheldon is searching too—not only for himself, but for others who also need matching bone marrow donors, particularly African Americans. Sheldon knows that patients are most likely to match someone who shares their ancestry, and African American patients have the lowest odds of finding a match compared to all other populations. The reason for this is because within this population, there is a high degree of diversity of HLA types (what is used to match patients) as well as an overall lower availability rate (willingness to move forward) when called as a potential match. More African American donors are urgently needed to save more lives.

That’s why Sheldon is sharing his story and spreading the word in every capacity he can. Not only is he acting president of the Be The Match® On Campus chapter at his school, North Carolina Central University, but he is also actively adding new potential bone marrow donors to the Be The Match Registry®.

Since his diagnosis, Sheldon has been hosting college-campus bone marrow donor registry drives in conjunction with Be The Match and’s Give A Spit about Cancer campaign. In 2013 alone, more than 4,000 people joined the Be The Match Registry as potential bone marrow donors during “Swab For Sheldon” donor registry drives.

This July, which is African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month, Sheldon and Be The Match are issuing you a challenge: Step up and help save more lives. Find out how you can be the cure at As Sheldon says, “Keep the hope alive.”

6 Responses to “Searching for His Life-Saving Match”

  1. Resean Bowman says:

    Hello my name is Resean and I recently lost the battle of Aplastic anemia with my daughter Jaelin!! She was only 14 and it’s very important to get awareness out in our communities to save our babies and others! It pleases me to here such a young man being so active and taking control of his own life!!

  2. Alexandra says:

    Hi My name is Alexandra a fee momths back i signed up for the be my match bone marrow i would i be able to find out if i could possibly help this young man and if they could find out if i was match for him.

    • admin says:

      Hi Alexandra,

      Thank you so much for your commitment to the registry! Doctors continually search the registry to find a matching donor for their patient. You can remain committed and available by keeping your contact information up to date at this link: If you would like to check your registry status with us, please give us a call at 1-800-MARROW2 and someone can further assist you.

      Best Wishes,

      Be The Match

  3. Marilyn Ramo says:

    My grand daughter was one of the lucky ones. Severe Aplastic Anemia and her brother was a match. I would like to hold a bone marrow registry drive at two colleges in Western North Carolina, Appalachian State and Lees McRae. Please feel free to contact me at my email.

  4. sherri williams says:

    I would like test to see if I’m a match.

    • admin says:

      Hi Sherri!

      Thanks for your interest in becoming a potential donor! If you would like to join the registry in order to test and see if you are a match for a patient, you can do so here:

      Be The Match

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