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Young man inspires bone marrow donation

October 20, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
There's a big bone marrow registration drive this Saturday in Milpitas and the focus is on getting more minorities on the registry.

It's been only a year since Carole Glasgow's son Nick died of cancer. His efforts to find a bone marrow match were posted on every social networking site -- reaching millions around the world.

The fact that Nick was part Caucasian and part Japanese made it nearly impossible to find someone with similar DNA markers.

"After word got out and people starting registering we found two perfect matches. That was a very happy day," Glasgow said.

But his leukemia came back and like Nick, there are many people in similar circumstances.

"When you mix Caucasian or when you mix two races together, it makes finding your match more difficult," Jonathan Leong from the Asian American Donor Program said.

For a Caucasian, the chances of finding a match are 85 percent. But for some of mixed-race heritage it is much less -- 30 percent and once you find the person; you have to hope he or she is still on board.

Nick, his family and friends managed to get 3,000 mix-raced people on the bone marrow registry.

"We have to get more people of mixed race on the registry. It's as simple as that," Leong said.

A swab kit is all that's needed to register and if you are matched with a patient 75 percent of the time, the stem cells are collected through a nonsurgical procedure pretty much like donating blood.

Recently, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed legislation that allows employees to take paid time off to make a bone marrow or organ donation. That was state St. Sen. Mark Desaulnier's bill.

Glasgow and her son's friends say there's a lot more to do to raise awareness.

"He would be proud that we are continuing the fight," she said.


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