Bone marrow drive to save WPB coach

By Tara Cardoso - bio | email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Shaquille O'Neal is working with the National Marrow Registry 'Be the Match' to help spread the word about the need for bone marrow donors. In the Do Something Big campaign O'Neal is challenging American's to "Be the one to save a life".

Kids Beating Cancer, the local contracted Marrow Donor Recruitment Center for the Be The Match® registry recently launched a campaign and community challenge to raise awareness, and specifically engage the African American community since there are few African American donors nationally.

For thousands of children and adults battling leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell disease and other life-threatening diseases, a bone marrow transplant offers their best - or only - hope for a cure. Seventy five percent of these patients don't have a matching donor in their families, so they depend on Kids Beating Cancer and the Be The Match Registry, the world's largest and most diverse listing of potential marrow donors, to find that life saving match.

There are 8 ½ million people on the Be The Match Registry® but only 600,000 -- or 7% -- are African Americans.  "More people of African descent are urgently needed on the marrow registry so that more lives can be saved" stated Adele Doctor, Program Director and liaison to the Be The Match® registry at the Breakfast. "Of the approximate 20,000 African American and black patients who searched for a life saving marrow donor, only 1,900 identified a donor in time to receive their transplant."

Martreace Jones, a resident of West Palm Beach is the Head Weight Lifting Coach and assistant footbal coach at Suncoast high school. He has been battling Leukemia since 2002 and desperately needs a marrow transplant. This weekend there are several local drives to find him a match, but any marrow donated will be immediately matched to someone who needs it. No matter what you can save a life this weekend with a simple donation.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 60 and in general good health, can give a simple cheek swab lab test, and fill out a brief health history questionnaire, you could help save the life of a patient like Martreace. You can register in person at the following drives:

May 14 - Roosevelt Middle School, 1900 N. Australian Ave. WPB, FL 5pm - 9pm.
May 15 - Roosevelt Middle School, 1900 N. Australian Ave.  WPB, FL 10am - 3pm.
May 15 -Omega Mardi Gras, S. Co. Civic Center, 16700 Jog Rd. Delray Beach, FL 7:30 pm-11pm.
May 16 - Roosevelt Middle School, 1900 N. Australian Ave. WPB, FL 9am - 12:30pm.

For more information on becoming a marrow donor, hosting a marrow donor recruitment drive, or to make a contribution visit www.kidsbeatingcancer.com.