Theodore Collins 0

Bone Marrow Transplant Patients Deserve A Better Chance To Survive

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Getting a stem cell transplant is often the only way that people with more than 80 different medical conditions such as leukemia, sickle cell anemia and lupus will survive. The majority of transplants are done using bone marrow stem cells from an unrelated donor. Bone marrow donor cells that do not recognize their recipient as the person they came from elicit an immune response called graft versus host (GVH).

Most people can't find someone that is genetically just like them to serve as a perfectly matched bone marrow donor. The genetic diversity of mixed heritage people, however, makes even finding a partially match donor nearly impossible, and many die without ever being able to find a bone marrow donor. Those "fortunate" enough to find a partially matched donor frequently die of a severe GVH response (GVH disease) following the transplant.

Sadly, the death of mixed heritage patients often gets lost in the hospital's outcomes data because such patients are almost always included as part of a larger racial group such as Asian or African American. Hospital policies to prevent the frequent and avoidable deaths are, therefore, nonexistent, and transplant physicians, in general, remain unaware of the imminent danger bone marrow transplants from unrelated donors cause mixed heritage people, in particular.

The blood present in the umbilical cord that links a mother and child is also a rich source of the same stem cells found in bone marrow. However, since babies can only mount a very weak immune response that can't even protect them from a serious cold, cord blood stem cells demonstrate little life-threatening GVH response. Cord blood is collected from the umbilical cord by the physician, nurse or midwife after the delivery. The collection is simple, painless and not harmful to the mother or baby in any way. Most mothers would gladly donate their cord blood rather than allow it to be thrown away with the medical waste.

We are sending this petition to stem cell transplant centers and asking them to preferentially give cord blood stem cell transplants when their mixed heritage patients don't have a related donor or a perfectly matched, unrelated bone marrow donor. 

A growing number of stem cell transplant centers, such as the University of Minnesota, are already doing what we are asking for all of their patients, regardless of race or ethnicity. Minnesota's experience indicates that GVH disease is greatly decreased when they use cord blood stem cells instead of bone marrow. 

We'd like to thank you for those that will now live because you took the time to sign this petition.


Become My Hero - The Imminent Danger Donor Locator We find cord blood donors for anyone in imminent danger of dying because he or she does not have a bone marrow donor in a registry. Our mission was established after the death of Natasha Collins, the founder's mixed heritage daughter who died while attending Yale Medical School from GVH disease following a transplant using partially matched bone marrow cells. We partner with Natasha's Place - the National Mixed Heritage and Minority Cord Blood Bank and Donor Registry.


Please visit our website to learn about what we do and who we are helping: 

Click below to join our Facebook Group and get paid to help find someone a donor:

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