Minorities have lower chances of finding bone marrow donors

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – FOX 12 InvestigatorsBone marrow matches can save lives, but that cure for blood cancers depends on people being willing to donate their bone marrow.

The chances of finding a donor vary greatly depending on race and ethnicity. For example, someone who is white has a 97 percent chance of finding a bone marrow match.

However, someone who is African-American sees the chances go down to just 66 percent. A person who is mixed race or ethnicity can see their chances go down to zero.

Mixed minorities are one of the fastest growing demographics in the U.S., but not enough minorities are donating to bone marrow registries and in terms of these kinds of transplants, race and ethnicity matter.

Lenore and Todd Thawley’s son Hunter died of leukemia before his fourth birthday.

Mom and dad represent our diverse country. Lenore is African-American, Indian, German and English. Todd is Korean and Caucasian.

They knew finding an exact bone marrow match for their son would likely be impossible.

They hoped with their doctors they could find something close enough, but Todd told FOX 12 they searched everywhere, across the U.S. and Europe, but came up with zero.

Lenore remembers the frustration.

“At that point, you’re like where are we? What can we do? What are our options? This or this?” she said.

Eventually, a borderline match for Hunter was found. He lived another nine months.

Todd and Lenore believe if more minorities were registered as bone marrow donors, their son might be alive today.

No matter what your race or ethnicity, anyone who considering becoming a bone marrow donor, should contact bethematch.org.

KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation.