The Background: Bone Marrow Donation vs. Asians
Every day, thousands of East Asians need life-saving bone marrow transplants. In the UK, of the 617,000 registered marrow donors, only 0.5% are East Asian. The situation is similar in the U.S. registry; and worldwide, the numbers are no different. On average, 350 out of every 10,000 people in the US are registered donors compared to just 14 out of 10,000 in China. Why is this? What is holding back Asians from donating?
I think that Asians are generous. With money, with time -- there's never any question to help our families, our friends, our villages and communities. But our bodies...? When I told my mother that I had signed up to be an organ donor for instance, it was met with...
"You mean they'll take your eyes and heart? Can't you do something else instead?"
My mother has spent countless hours volunteering at schools, the inner city, on mission trips to other countries. But here, there was hesitation... Fear. There is something about our bodies, our sacred temples, and giving pieces away.
I am not trying to dismiss people's beliefs and ideals. But in bone marrow donation, the reality is that a small act, can have a tremendous affect. It can save a life. 90% of all bone marrow donation is just giving blood. Blood is taken from one arm, filtered in a machine to capture valuable marrow stem cells, and the rest is pumped back into the other arm. Getting tested is even easier. All you need to do is swab the inside of your mouth with a Q-tip and send it off to a lab.
The Appeal: #allysfight
Please meet my son, Alastair. He will turn 2 years old this month, and has lived at the hospital for the last 7 months. That's 1/3 of his life. He needs a bone marrow transplant to save his life. A match is most likely to come from another Korean or person of East Asian descent.
The Conclusion: You Can Make a Difference
This post isn't meant to be a sob story, a pity party, a blame fest, a guilt trip. No. This is a story of hope. YOU are that hope.
Please register to get a free bone marrow screening kit sent to you. Please raise awareness. Please take action. You may not be a match for Alastair, but you may be the one to save someone else in need. Thank you.
To register in the US (age 18-44): join.bethematch.com/allysfight
To register in the UK (age 17-55): www.dkms.org.uk
For more info about Ally: www.allysfight.com
Andrew Kim is a Korean-American living with his family in the UK. He is a college classmate of Angry Asian Man; they even won a dance competition together. Alastair (Ally) is a little boy with a rare and severe immune disorder called CGD. He enjoys playing football (the European version), watching Peppa Pig, and trying out spicy food.