Oakland, CA, January 17, 2020 – Estella Kim, a 35-year-old woman who lives in Sacramento, California, is clinging to life once again. We brought this story to you in March 2019, when Estella was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) with Philadelphia Plus Chromosome. ALL is an aggressive blood cancer. With the added factor that Estella has Philadelphia Plus, she urgently needed a marrow transplant to survive.
Outreach is being done in South Korea and in the U.S. Some of Estella’s family members live in South Korea. Her family members there are coordinating outreach with the Korean Marrow Donor Program.
“Estella is dependent on a stranger, most likely of Korean heritage, to step forward and register,” says Carol Gillespie, executive director of the Asian American Donor Program (AADP). “Any with Asian heritage is encouraged to register.”
More about Estella
Estella is a dental anesthesiologist, a mom, a wife, a daughter, and a friend. She is also a leukemia patient. Her heritage, Korean American, is preventing her from finding a matching donor because there aren’t enough Koreans registered as potential donors.
“I am completely dependent upon the registry to find a match, as my leukemia is back and my brother’s cells did not work.” Estella says. “There are zero matches for me. Being of Korean-American heritage, the population is severely under-represented as donors. If you have just five minutes, I ask you to register.”
Estella is an adoptive parent. Justin, her son, is two-and-a-half years old. Her ALL diagnosis changed Estella’s and her husband’s adoptive path for a second child.
Estella grew up in Sacramento, California. In 2002, she graduated from Rio Americano High School in Sacramento. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from University of California, San Diego. Estella received a Doctorate Degree in Dental Surgery (DDS) with a specialty in Dental Anesthesiology from Loma Linda University, School of Dentistry.
What’s the Solution?
Minorities are more likely to die of leukemia and other blood cancers because there is a shortage of ethnic and multi-ethnic donors on the Be The Match® national registry. It is vital to build a more diverse registry so everyone has an equal opportunity to survive blood cancers.
Encouraging more people of ethnically diverse backgrounds and those of mixed heritage to be committed and join the Registry, potentially saving a life. Each of us can “Be The One to Save a Life!”
The Asian American Donor Program (AADP, www.aadp.org) is a 30-year-old community based nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization, based in Alameda, CA, that works to educate community members about the shortage of ethnic marrow donors and the importance of joining the Be The Match® national registry. It is the oldest nonprofit of its kind in the country. AADP staff is dedicated to increasing the availability of potential stem cell donors for patients with life threatening diseases curable by a blood stem cell or marrow transplant. AADP is an official recruitment center for Be The Match®.
“For thousands of severely ill blood cancer patients, there is a cure,” says Carol Gillespie, AADP executive director. “You could be the cure. Those whose marrow/stem cells are not a match for a patient in need now may be a match for someone else down the road, anywhere in the world. I encourage multi-ethnic individuals to commit to registering. It is simple to register – just a swab of the inside of your cheek.”
When a marrow match is not readily available, patients have to wait longer than is ideal to find a match.” Once a match has been found, their disease may have progressed to the point that they are no longer eligible for a transplant.
Shortage of Ethnic/Multi-Ethnic Donors
In 2019, an estimated combined total of 176,200 people in the US were expected to be diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma. New cases of leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma were expected to account for 10 percent of the estimated 1,762,450 new cancer cases diagnosed in the US in 2019. (From: https://www.lls.org/facts-and-statistics/facts-and-statistics-overview/facts-and-statistics
The Be The Match® registry recruits hundreds of thousands of donors each year through an extensive network of about 100 local and regional Community Engagement Representatives and organizations. You only need to join the Be The Match® registry once.
Marrow/stem cell matches are very different than blood type matches. Just as we inherit our eyes, hair, and skin color, we inherit our marrow and stem cell tissue type.
How You Can Commit to Help
- Register on line: https://my.bethematch.org/EstellasJourney Or, text ESTELLA to 61474
- You must be 18 to 44 years old and meet general health requirements
- Complete the online consent form and a swab kit will be mailed to you
- Be committed. Be ready to donate to any patient in need
- Other ways to help – call AADP at 1-800-593-6667 or visit our website http://www.aadp.org
Please take a few minutes of your time to learn more about how you can help save a life and register as a marrow donor.
For press questions, contact Sally Douglas Arce at 510-815-8528 or firstname.lastname@example.org