November 11, 2009

1. The most likely match is someone of the same or similar ethnicity.

95% of people with sickle cell anemia are of African descent. Currently the only people who get transplants for severe cases of this disease are children and young adults. Black people of all ages with diseases like leukemia, lymphoma and aplastic anemia deserve the same chance at a transplant, often the best chance for survival if it is proposed.

2. 75% of European-Canadians find an unrelated match. Only 10-30% of "anybody else" find an unrelated match.

40% of Canadian patients who need a transplant are minorities, but as registrants they only represent 13%.

3. Due to genetic variance, 1 in 500 Europeans need to be on the registry, but 1 in 10 Africans should be on the registry worldwide.

Due to the history of our migrations, there is more genetic diversity among people who identify themselves as black, African, African-American -Canadian -Caribbean (We could be classified as the largest mixed heritage population in North America). Caribbean people are among some of the hardest to type in the world, as are people of mixed ethnicity.

4. There aren't enough of us in the Canadian registry.

0.5% of the entire registry is classified as black and less than 0.2% is classified as multiethnic.
By The Numbers 2009:

Range to begin effective matching 10000-20000
Optimal number of Black registrants required in Canada 70000-80000

New black registrants in Canada between Oct 2008 and 2009 217
Black registrants in Canada in October 2009 1433

New black registrants in Quebec between October 2008 and 2009 38
Black registrants in Quebec in October 2009 62

By the Numbers 2008

5. The shortage is worldwide.

Donors and recipients can live in different countries. So a donor can come from a rich donor pool like the US. There is a shortage of African-American registrants.

African-American registrants as of March 2009 550 000
Optimal number of African-American registrants required in US 4 million

A search can be international if no one is found in North America, but there are not enough people of African descent registered in the world. There are no registries in the Caribbean or Africa (except South Africa).

Do you want to see these numbers improve? This is where we have a role to play. Here's a problem you don't have to throw money at. Ask questions. Tell a friend about this information and ask them if they knew about it and would be willing to tell someone else. Use Twitter, Livejournal, Facebook or your blog to get the word out.

You're not of African descent or from the Caribbean? It doesn't matter, you probably know someone who is who you will be helping by making this information public knowledge. If you know me personally, I'd like the same chances as you in life if I needed to depend on the registry. It's that simple. I may never need it, but someone just like me does right now, and many will in the future.

The Extraordinary Moment Sarah Meets Her Lifesaver

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