Get Swabbed! Latinos and Bone Marrow Awareness

The statistics about Latinos in the United States are amazing and awe inspiring:

  • We are 52million+ strong making us 16% of the U.S. population
  • According to Time Magazine, we are the deciding vote in the 2012 presidential election
  • Our purchasing power is now estimated to be at $1Trillion dollars
  • We rule social media as an ethnic group with about 8.1 million of us Twitting daily and about 3.5 million of us updating our Facebook statuses.

And YET despite these numbers, a Latino in need of a Bone Marrow Donation only has a 9% chance of finding a match. Contrast that to Caucasians, who have a 73% chance of finding a match in the bank. How can this be? According to the experts on this issue, in the Hispanic community, many Latinos think that donating bone marrow (médula ósea) means donating part of your spinal cord (médula espinal) because the terms are very similar in Spanish. There is also a general assumption that the process is painful.

Is the situation hopeless? While the numbers are daunting, we absolutely have the power to change it. We are not the only group that has faced such incredible odds: In 1990, ethnic Jews only had about a 5% chance of finding a match in the Bone Marrow Bank. As of today, they have a greater than 70% chance of finding a match, all because of the work of one organization, The Gift Of Life Foundation. How amazing is this fact? Think about it. As of 2011, there were about 6.5 Million Jews in the US making up only about 2.1% of the population. We Latinos are 52million+ strong or about 16% of the population in the US. Imagine if 5% of all Latinos in the US registered today? It’s a dream that can be made into reality. Here is how:

First, go to DKMS http://www.getswabbed.org the world’s largest bone marrow donor center. Register to request your swab. Once you get it, swab your cheek and send it back. After that, you wait for the possibility that your profile matches someone in need. There are two methods of donation:

  • PBSC donation is a nonsurgical, outpatient procedure that takes place at a hospital or blood bank unit. To learn more, watch the PBSC donation video.
  • Marrow donation is a surgical outpatient procedure that takes place at a hospital. You will feel no pain during the donation. To learn more, watch the marrow donation video.

Second, give money or volunteer with The Icla da Silva Foundation. They are the largest recruitment center for the Be The Match Registry and are strongly focused on recruiting within minority communities.

Third, spread awareness about the issue. Write a blog, tweet about it, post about it on your Facebook wall. Information is power and right now, a lot of latinos don’t have the information they need to make powerful decisions that could positively affect their community.

Why am I writing about this? I have not been able to stop thinking about Baby Sophia Lopez’s story featured on a recent LatinoUSA Podcast. Sophia is a 17 month old girl who experienced horrific pain and a long road to recovery simply because she is of Ecuadorian / Puerto Rican background and a bone marrow donor matching her ethnicity could not be found. Sometimes, it takes a stranger to get you to be the difference you want to see in the world.

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2 thoughts on “Get Swabbed! Latinos and Bone Marrow Awareness

  1. This is quite alarming stuff. I knew the general stats surrounding Latinos and our growth in numbers but had no idea this was an issue in our communities. Thanks for keeping us informed and giving us clear steps on how we can become involved. I will do my part to help spread the word so we can hopefully get that number above 9%. Thanks cow girls!

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