Former Dunster House resident Alan J. Kuo '85 is dying of leukemia; he may have as little as one month to live if doctors do not find an exact match to his bone marrow. Last week, Kuo's tragedy was brought to light on Harvard's campus, due to a two-day bone marrow drive sponsored by friends of Kuo and the Chinese Students Association.
We applaud the efforts of the members of the Harvard community who are trying to save Kuo's life. According to Harrison W. Lin '99, co-president of the Chinese Students Association, an estimated 580 people registered with the National Marrow Donor Program during the two-day event, approximately 85 percent of whom were Asian-American.
Kuo has a much better chance of finding a match in an Asian-American because, as executive director for the Asian American Donor Program Cheryl Louie said, "just as we inherit our eyes, hair and skin color, we inherit bone marrow in the same manner."
In the face of this massive show of communal support, it is embarrassing to note that some people attacked the drive as discriminating. One poster asked in large letters above a picture of Kuo, "Are you Asian?" underneath which was the response, "Then you could save my life." While the posters did target Asians, this one was done out of an understanding of the increased likelihood that Asians would have the bone marrow type that could save Kuo's life.
While the United States Navy subsidizes minority registration with the National Marrow Donor Program and caucasians must pay $50, the Kuo drive attained minority drive status, which allows for every 10 minorities who register, one caucasian to register for free. As a result of this and of money raised by the Chinese Students Association and others, no one paid the registration fee last week.
It is a fact that bone marrow can save lives, and every person who registers has the potential to save the life of a friend or a total stranger. Given the underrepresentation of minority groups in the national registry, any drive that focuses on minorities is laudable. To register, you may call the American Cancer Society at (800) 952-7664.
The outpouring of support for Kuo by Harvard students is something that deserves praise. We can only hope that Harvard's and the many similar drives organized around the country will prevail in saving Kuo and others desperately in need of a bone marrow match.
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