In an effort to help 15-year-old Jenna Goring of Kansas City, the MU Asian Affairs Center is calling for help from minorities in the Columbia community, especially Koreans.
Goring, who was adopted from Taegu, Korea, when she was about 27 months old, was diagnosed with aplastic anemia in April 2004, according to information from the Asian Affairs Center. Recently, Goring’s condition worsened, and a bone marrow transplant is her only hope.
Kacy Burg, public affairs associate at the center, said the drive is meant to increase the number of minority donors on the national registry in a hope to find a match for Goring and other minorities suffering from similar illnesses.
“We hope to help in whatever way we can for those people that need transplants,” Burg said. “We know there isn’t a high probability of finding a lot of matches at this time, but we hope to find some matches — whether it is now or 30 years from now.”
After receiving an e-mail about Goring’s story in September, the center contacted Gail Chism, recruiter for Heart of America, an official donor center for the National Marrow Donor Program, and decided to sponsor a drive at MU.
“No matter where you come from, we are all human beings and we all have a genuine interest to help others,” said Sang Kim, director of the Asian Affairs Center.
Chism, whose granddaughter died from complications caused by a transplant in July 1999, said she has led similar drives at the University of Kansas for the past three years. She said that when she heard Goring’s story, she sent fliers and e-mails to Asian organizations all over the state, including MU.
The drive is one of the last events in Korea Week on campus. Participants will watch a video and receive pamphlets about bone marrow donation. If a person decides to donate, he or she will give a small sample of blood for testing. If the sample matches a patient who needs a transplant, the volunteer will be notified by the National Marrow Donor Program for donation.
No marrow will be taken the day of the event.
Burg said the drive is open to all people, but there is greater need for minority donors, thus the lab testing fee for minorities is waived.
“We’re trying to make it more accessible for people who are not able to pay,” said Patrick Thompson, senior public relations and media outreach coordinator of the National Marrow Donor Program. “The goal is to get a more diverse pool of donors.”
The program is the world’s largest and most diverse transplant registry. According to www.marrow.org, of the 5.5 million potential donors on the program registry, 430,000 are black, 400,000 are Hispanic, 360,000 are Asian and 67,000 are American Indian.
Each year more than 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases in which a blood or marrow transplant could be the cure.
Although tissue types are inherited, 70 percent of patients cannot find marrow or blood matches in their families, Thompson said. He said these patients have a greater chance of finding the match within their own ethnic group. Because minorities have a more complicated tissue type than Caucasians, there is less chance for a complete match between the two.
“The more people joining the registry, the greater chance they have of finding a match,” Thompson said. “We encourage people of greater ethnic origins to join the registry, but there’s a definite need for people of all races to join.”