Bone marrow drive for man with rare leukemia

February 11, 2013 5:50:37 PM PST
California Attorney General Kamala Harris set aside state business Monday for some romance in San Francisco. It was part of a powerful campaign to help a Bay Area man who desperately needs a bone marrow transplant.

Every day, couples get married in San Francisco's ornate city Hall but perhaps no ceremony has been as unique as the one when Lateefah Simon and Kevin Weston renewed their vows. "It's really about folks coming together for an issue that's larger than us, and it's about love," Lateefah told ABC7 News.

The first time they married it was in an ICU. Kevin, 44, has a rare form of leukemia. His only chance for survival is a bone marrow transplant and though there are 10 million potential donors in the national registry, only about 7 to 8 percent are African-American. "African-American, Asian-American, White, Hispanic, we all have different antigens, so you have to match those antigens in order for it to be compatible with your body," explained Carol Gillespie with the Asian American Donor Program.

To bolster Kevin's chances, the couple has launched an all-out search using social media and even public service announcements. Monday's ceremony was another way to get the word out as are marrow match drives like one Monday afternoon at city Hall. "Years ago, I donated a kidney and it was a lot of education to get to the point where it made sense to me. So, this is just something, if I can help, it's an easy thing to do," said potential donor Saleem Shakir.

Kevin is in a prestigious journalism program at Stanford. His wife is a McArthur Genius Award recipient. Together, they are community activists raising two daughters. They are a couple determined to fight for their love and his life. "Very rarely do you get an opportunity in life to help save another person's life, but this is exactly what can happen," Kevin said.

The goal is to add 1,000 African Americans to the national register hoping someone will be a match, if not for Kevin Weston, for someone else.


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