“One single African-American person can alleviate the pain and suffering for another, just by really and truly educating themselves, being brave and stepping forward and coming through with the donation,” Dutchin says. “Robin was so grateful and so generous and shared her story with the public and we saw our online registrations triple within days. She brought that awareness and we [still] need for more people to join the registry.”
“It seems like this big daunting thing, but really it’s a very simple process,” says Weston. “It’s not painful and [you] usually just go there one day and they take care of you.”
And it’s true, Dutchin says, the process is relatively simple and painless. More than 70 percent of the time, donors are given an injection that will release bone marrow into the bloodstream. For one day, the donor will get blood drawn out from one arm; a machine will extract the marrow from the bloodstream and then the blood will be returned into the donor’s other arm.
“We’re not actually taking something from you. We’re making your body make something extra, leaving you with what you started with,” Dutchin explains.
Weston’s mission to gain more African-American bone marrow donors is something he says he can accomplish for others waiting for a match.
“Basically this drive is to give back,” he says. “There’s small chance that someone that will match me at this point. Statistically it’s probably not likely. [But if] you get a thousand more people – that’s a thousand more people that have been educated and hopefully they’ll be people who will take the next step [and donate]. It’s a snowball effect.”
Weston actually did find a match in the registry, but the donor was unable to go through with the donation. The 44-year old Oakland native is now turning to his half-brother for a haplo transplant which he says works almost as well as a full match non-relative donor.
“It’s a waiting game for me. My prognosis isn’t dire, but it is urgent. We’re trying to get [the haplo transplant] done as soon as possible,” he says.
Weston currently has registered over 800 African-Americans in the registry so far and are holding more drives in the following months. A Be the Match spokesperson told theGrio that hundreds of people have registered to be donors at Weston’s renewal ceremony, but they have not determined how many of them are African-American.
To register for the bone marrow registry on Be the Match Registry, click here.
Follow Brittany Tom on Twitter @brittanyrtom