Entrepreneur Amit Gupta, founder of Photojojo, was recently diagnosed with leukemia and is in need of a bone marrow transplant.
He first blogged about his diagnosis last week:
Two weeks ago I got a call from my doctor, who I’d gone to see the day before because I’d been feeling worn out and was losing weight, and wasn’t sure why.
He was brief: “Amit, you’ve got Acute Leukemia. You need to enter treatment right away.”
I was terrified. I packed a backpack full of clothes, went to the hospital as he’d instructed, and had transfusions through the night to allow me to take a flight home at 7am the next day. I Googled acute leukemia as I lay in my hospital bed, learning that if it hadn’t been caught, I’d have died within weeks.
I have a couple more months of chemo to go, then the next step is a bone marrow transplant. As Jay and Tony describe below, minorities are severely underrepresented in the bone marrow pool, and I need help.
Amit’s not the only South Asian who is waiting for a match. Dr. Anand Patel, a father of three based in Florida, also recently received a leukemia diagnosis. His family and friends have been organizing bone marrow drives across the country. You can learn more about these drives on Anand’s Facebook page.
I’ve written before in this space about the under-representation of South Asians in the National Bone Marrow Registry. A South Asian patient in need of a bone marrow transplant currently only has a 1 in 20,000 chance of finding a match.
We as a community can do much better. A simple cheek swab is all that is required to enter the marrow registry. More details about what happens if you are a match can be found here.
Interested in entering the registry?
Those in New York City can attend the Brown Bones Benefit Party on Oct 14. Volunteers will have provide all of the necessary paperwork and cheek swab tests.
You can also order a kit and do the cheek swab test at home. Visit Marrow.org to get a kit through Be the Match.
I also think it’s important for potential donors to be certain that they are willing to help. According to the Anand’s Battle for Leukemia Facebook page “only 1.8% of the National Registry is made up of South Asians, and of that half of them decide not to go through with donating.” That statistic sounds heartbreaking for everyone involved. Don’t let that be you.