AUSTIN, Texas, April 27, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP)/Be The Match is honoring a University of Houston student, Yusuf Khan, during Be The Match Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 27. Years after donating bone marrow to his mother, Nadia Sheikh, Khan engaged State Representative Dr. Tom Oliverson to create HB 780, legislation that would establish a Texas bone marrow donor recruitment program in partnership with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
HB 780 has passed the House and is moving to a vote in the Senate. Be The Match will present Khan with a letter of commendation from Governor Abbott on Tuesday, April 7, to recognize his advocacy to diversify the Nation's registry.
"Many people are unaware of the ability to join the Be The Match Registry with a simple cheek swab and potentially become a lifesaving donor," said Rep. Oliverson. "Yusuf continues to be an example for us all by acting selflessly, first for his mother and now for other patients who need a matching donor. HB 780 will undoubtedly help improve the likelihood of patients battling leukemia and other blood diseases to find matching donors."
Despite the large number of individuals on the registry, more than 10,000 patients each year will not find a matching donor. This was the situation Khan's mother faced. With no matching donors on the worldwide registries, she received a half-matched or haplo-identical transplant using Khan's bone marrow. She often wonders if her recovery would have been easier if she had a matching donor on the registry.
"It has been three years since my transplant and my recovery has been slow. I have been hospitalized over the years more times than I can remember, and my battle is not over, but I am safe at home with my loved ones and enjoying life," Sheikh said. "I am grateful that I was fortunate enough to have a son who was at least a 50 percent matching donor. I wonder what would have happened if I didn't have a child. There are so many patients in that situation. I am proud of my son for being my donor and also for wanting to add more diversity to the national bone marrow registry and help more patients find their match."
Currently, Texans represent the second highest number of registry members with more than 800,000 potential donors. Texas also leads the nation for the number of Black and Hispanic donors who have selflessly donated marrow or blood stem cells. This is important because ethnicity and geographic ancestry matter in matching tissue types for a successful transplant and there is a disparity affecting people of color searching for a match. Less than 1 in 3 Black patients will find a matching donor and less than half Asian or Hispanic patients will find a matching donor, whereas 3 out of 4 White patients will find a match. Addressing this disparity is another goal of HB 780.
"We are dedicated to delivering cures to all patients regardless of racial or ethnic background," said Jon Hudson, NMDP/Be The Match Regional Director of Engagement and Enrollment. "Yusuf's passion around helping more Texans learn about the chance to save a life by joining the Nation's registry through HB 780 will save lives."
Since its inception in the mid-1980s, NMDP/Be The Match has been entrusted by Congress to operate the Nation's registry and has facilitated more than 105,000 transplants, giving patients with otherwise fatal blood cancers or blood disorders a second chance at life. This includes 3,936 patients from Texas.
Potential donors between the ages of 18-44 can join the Be The Match Registry by texting TXSaves to 61474. A cheek swab kit will be mailed to the registrant's home to complete the registration process and find out if they are a match for a searching patient. Be The Match will be set up at the Capitol on April 27 to inform legislators about the national marrow donor program and how individuals can volunteer, support or advocate for the Be The Match Registry and the patients it serves.
About Be The Match®
For people with life-threatening blood cancers?like leukemia and lymphoma?or other diseases, a cure exists. Be The Match connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. People can contribute to the cure as a member of the Be The Match Registry®, financial contributor or volunteer. Be The Match provides patients and their families one-on-one support, education, and guidance before, during and after transplant.
Be The Match is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), a nonprofit organization that matches patients with donors, educates health care professionals and conducts research through its research program, CIBMTR® (Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research®), so more lives can be saved. To learn more about the cure, visit BeTheMatch.org or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.
SOURCE National Marrow Donor Program/Be The Match
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