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Blood Stem Cell/Marrow Donor Availability for African American Patients

WHEREAS, blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and other life-threatening diseases such as sickle cell disease can be cured by a committed and matching blood stem cell/marrow donor; and

WHEREAS, the national blood stem cell/marrow registry, Be The Match strives to provide equal outcomes and availability of life-saving donors to people of all races and ethnicities; and

WHEREAS, every 3 minutes someone in the United States is diagnosed with 1 of 70 diseases that can be treated by a potentially life-saving transplant; and

WHEREAS, 70% of all people in need of a transplant depends on the Be The Match Registry to find an unrelated donor; and

WHEREAS, African Americans only make up 4% of the Be The Match Registry; and

WHEREAS, almost 100,000 transplants have occurred in the United States since 1987, but only 5% of which were for African American persons; and

WHEREAS, the likelihood of finding a matched and committed donor available for an African American person is only 23% as compared to a Caucasian people at 77%; and

WHEREAS, African Americans have such unique HLA types in that 78% of the new African American Registry Members added in 2018 provided a new HLA typing, and

WHEREAS, SAMAR, a recruitment center of Be The Match provides educational and registration opportunities for the African American community; and

WHEREAS, prospective donors can register for "Be The Match" online through the link, which contains a consent form or by text to 61474 with the code NAACP. Registered participants will receive postage paid swabs for return to the bank.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that all NAACP branches partner with Be The Match of The National Marrow Donor program and the local centers to educate and register committed life-saving blood stem cell/marrow donors, as it is the only registry focused on ethnically diverse donor groups to bring equal opportunity to donors.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the NAACP call for the implementation of a formal national program such as Be The Match, that endeavors to educate and bring awareness to African American and Latino communities about the need to provide equal opportunities for the treatment of blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and other life-threatening diseases such as sickle cell diseases through presentations, registration events, and drives, using health agencies, education forums, community cultural centers, religious institutions, local and national awareness campaigns, and policy advocacy.