(BLACK PR WIRE) -- Did you know that thousands of African Americans have lost their lives to curable diseases because they were unable to find matching bone marrow transplants? Did you also know that you could be directly responsible for saving a life through being a blood tissue donor? Unlike organs taken from a dead body, marrow and blood cell donations are taken from healthy, live people. Bone marrow is soft tissue inside bones where most blood cells are produced. People with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases have diseased blood cells, and require replacing the diseased cells with healthy blood cells from a donor.
Right now, there is a crucial need for people of African American, mixed-race and other minority ethnicities to become blood tissue donors. One tragic story is that of former baseball player Rod Carew. His daughter Michelle, of Afro-Panamanian and Russian-Jewish heritage, died at 18 from leukemia in 1996. Michelle's mixed heritage was a major obstacle to finding a compatible bone marrow donor.
The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) at www.bethematch.org explains why ethnicity is an important factor in matching patient and donor. Because blood tissue type is genetically inherited, the best match will usually be a sibling or other blood relative. When that is not available, a donor of similar ethnic background is the most compatible.
You could be the answer to someone's prayers. If you would like to take the first step, log on to www.bethematch.org and you will find instructions to join the NMDP marrow registry, either online or in person. Even if you are not a candidate for tissue donation, there are other ways to help. You can donate financially or by volunteering at a donor center. You can take part in donor recruitment campaigns among your friends, family and community. Expectant mothers can donate blood cells from their newborn baby's umbilical cord. You can also donate blood, which is always in need for people of all backgrounds. A few good donors are always needed.