This July, in honor of African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month, Delete Blood Cancer DKMS will proudly debut a PSA about Zahara Weeks, a five-year-old currently battling sickle cell anemia, featuring Grey’s Anatomy’s star James Pickens Jr. Despite her young age, Zahara has already begun to inspire others to join the bone marrow registry and potentially become a lifesaving match for a patient in need. In observance of this month, Delete Blood Cancer hopes to raise awareness and drive action, particularly among African-American and minority populations, where there is a significant need for bone marrow donors.
Nearly 14,000 patients each year rely on the donor registry to find a lifesaving match. The odds are especially low for African-American patients, because only 7 percent of the national donor registry is made up of African Americans. As a result, more than 1 in 3 African-American patients fighting blood cancers like leukemia and blood disorders like sickle cell disease can’t find a donor to give them a second chance at life.
James was inspired to join the cause following a Grey’s Anatomy storyline in which a child required a bone marrow transplant to survive. He recognized the need to spread the word about joining the bone marrow registry and teamed up with Delete Blood Cancer to make a difference.
“I will admit, I knew little about bone marrow donation before filming the PSA,” says Pickens. “After meeting Zahara and her family, I was determined to learn more and encourage others to educate themselves as well.”
Registering as a potential donor is easy. The process only takes a few minutes and consists of swabbing the inside of the mouth and completing a registration form. Individuals can register online at DeleteBloodCancer.org to receive a swab kit in the mail, which they will then return to Delete Blood Cancer in the prepaid envelop to be analyzed.
“We are thrilled to debut this project to help spread the word about the urgent need for individuals to join the registry – especially African Americans,” said Katharina Harf, co-founder of Delete Blood Cancer. “Our organization aims to grow the number of registered bone marrow donors to provide hope to every patient searching for a match.”
Help make a difference by viewing and sharing Zahara’s PSA and registering online as a potential donor.
About Delete Blood Cancer
Delete Blood Cancer DKMS was born from one individual’s incredible efforts to find a suitable bone marrow donor to save his spouse’s life. Our mission is to build a critical mass of suitable bone marrow and stem cell donors, because we believe that no life should be lost due to an inability to find a donor match. Today, the organization is part of the world’s largest bone marrow donor center. We have registered more than 4 million potential donors and facilitated more than 40,000 transplants around the world. But we’re not stopping there. We lead the fight against blood cancer by working with families, communities and organizations to recruit donors and provide more patients with second chances at life.