Community leaders collaborate to change the odds for patients in need

Community encouraged to diversify marrow registry, improve odds for blood cancer and blood disease patients

City Council District 2 and VelocityTX Innovation Center are hosting a blood and marrow registry drive on March 31 at the Merchant’s Ice Complex on East Houston Street to help patients in need of a marrow or stem cell transplant. The drives originally were planned in February, in honor of Black History Month, but were postponed because of the severe winter weather.

“A blood or stem cell transplant is the best hope for thousands of patients fighting blood cancers and blood disorders, like sickle cell anemia, including patients in our community,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “These patients are more likely to find a matching donor from their own ethnic background. They need our help to increase their chances of finding a match.”

Marrow registry drives will also be hosted by Northside Independent School District on March 27 at the Dub Farris Athletic Complex and Paul Taylor Field House. The events at NISD will be in a drive-through format, allowing people to socially distance and sign up in the comfort of their vehicle.

  • Saturday, March 27 at Dub Farris Athletic Complex parking lot (8400 North Loop 1604 W), from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 27 at Paul Taylor Field House/Hardin Athletic Complex Gustafson parking lot (7001 Culebra Rd.), from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 31 at VelocityTX Innovation Center (at the Merchant’s Ice complex, 1305 E. Houston St.), from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

“Being a part of the bone marrow registry is as easy as a swab of the cheek,” said District 2 councilmember Jada Andrews-Sullivan. “Please join us on March 31 at VelocityTX to register for the bone marrow registry.”

South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, a subsidiary of nonprofit BioBridge Global, and Be the Match are conducting the drives to raise awareness about the need for minority groups, like African Americans and Hispanics, to join the marrow registry.

For patients like Kami and Kyra Crawford, a marrow or stem cell transplant can be the potential cure to their daily fight with sickle cell anemia, a chronic blood disorder that causes severe pain and fatigue. The odds of finding a match are low—African American patients have only a 23% chance of finding the match they need to help cure their blood cancer or blood disorder.

While the sisters are looking at several treatment options in the hopes of living normal lives, they continue encouraging others to join the marrow registry in honor of other sickle cell patients.

For patients fighting blood cancers and blood disorders, a marrow or stem cell transplant is often a last hope for a cure. In order to receive a transplant, patients must find a matching donor—someone with the same genetic markers of the immune system, which is inherited from one’s ethnic or racial background. African Americans, Hispanics, and other minority groups are underrepresented on the registry, meaning those patients have a lower chance of finding their match.

“Northside is excited and proud to continue our partnership with South Texas Blood & Tissue Center and now to be part of the Be The Match marrow registry,” said Don Schmidt, Assistant Superintendent for Student, Family and Community Services at NISD. “We can all make a difference in the lives of those in need.”

“Every donation made on March 31 will increase the odds and help save lives for our friends and neighbors most at risk,” said Rene Dominguez, President and COO at Texas Research & Technology Foundation. “We are urging any eligible donor to support this community effort by scheduling a blood drive appointment online or join the marrow registry.”

For more information about the drives and how to join the registry, visit SouthTexasBlood.org/Swab.