A database-building event for the National Marrow Donor Program was held on the Binghamton University campus this week in order to raise awareness about leukemia and other blood-related diseases in minorities while conducting preliminary testing for possible donors.
Cammy Lee, of the Cammy Lee Leukemia Foundation, a non-profit organization which was founded by Lee’s parents when she was diagnosed with leukemia, helped to gather samples from donor’s cheek cells. The swabs determine a person’s tissue type, and if the person is found to be a partial match to a patient, a small sample of blood would be collected for further testing. Should the tests prove a conclusive match, Lee added, donors have a choice of whether they want to go through with the procedure or not.
Lee, who was diagnosed with leukemia 20 years ago, had gone through six years of chemotherapy when it was discovered that the cancer was returning.
“For a second chance at life, I needed a bone marrow transplant,” she said. She did receive one, and now she is an activist for others.
But for many minorities, blood marrow transplants are not a viable option. Of the 6 million registered donors, only 30 percent are minorities, and only 8 percent are Asian. Lee said that this amounted to a dramatic shortage, which this week’s event sought to alleviate.
It was also supported by the Chinese Student Organization, Sigma Psi Zeta and Lambda Phi Epsilon.