Bone Marrow Effort Targets Minorities

South Asian Association sponsors drive

In the fall of 1997, doctors told Alan J. Kuo '85 he had one month to live. The only thing that could save his life was a bone marrow transplant--and finding a marrow match was a challenge.

But this story has a happy ending: the Dunster House alumnus is alive today. Numerous drives around the country--including one at Harvard--finally gave Kuo the match he needed to fight his leukemia.

Things do not always end so well for similar cancer victims--especially minorities, for whom bone marrow donors are in short supply. That's why the South Asian Association (SAA) is holding a bone marrow drive today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Green Room at Loker Commons.

"Our hope is that a lot of minorities come and realize the importance of doing what they can to help," said Uttam K. Tambar '00, SAA co-president.

The initiative to hold a drive this year began, said Tambar, because one SAA member has an ill relative who is in need of a bone marrow transplant.


Minorities are far more likely to find a match among people who share their heritage.

For this reason there is much concern over the low numbers of minorities nationally who are registered with the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP).

Groups like the American Cancer Society and the American Red Cross are actively encouraging minorities to get registered.

The SAA is taking up that role on campus, much like the Chinese Students Association did last year in Kuo's honor. That drive drew more than 100 students.

Students who attend the drive will take a simple blood test; their bone marrow type will then be recorded by the NMDP.

If an individual's type matches that of someone in need, the potential donor will be contacted. Donation involves the extraction of bone marrow from the hip while the patient is under general or local anesthesia. In a healthy individual, the body replaces the lost marrow, leaving no permanent damage.

Registering as a potential donor is the firststep in saving someone's life. It worked for AlanKuo, and the SAA hopes drives like theirs willgive more people with life-threatening illness thechance to survive