GLENDALE—On Palm and Easter Sundays, as families gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Christ and the season of renewal and rebirth, the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR) and the Armenian communities in LA, Boston and San Francisco were busy with the task of bringing the ultimate message of hope to the family of 4-year old Charlotte in Philadelphia.
Charlotte is diagnosed with aplastic anemia. Her bone marrow cannot make the platelets and red blood cells she needs, and her only hope of survival hinges on her getting a bone marrow stem cell transplant from a healthy donor. Because Charlotte is part Armenian, and because Armenians have their own unique genetic makeup, Charlotte’s life-saving donor is most likely to be someone of Armenian descent. With this in mind, and with the firm determination of giving Charlotte her very best chance of getting a compatible donor, ABMDR and Armenian communities in Southern and Northern California, Boston, Iran and Yerevan mobilized their forces and organized several donor drives, during which more than 400 donors joined ABMDR. A few days later, in partnership with Glendale Memorial Hospital, and a great deal of interest and coverage from the local and national media, over new100 donors registered. As these new samples are being analyzed to look for a match for Charlotte and the other 900+ Armenian patients waiting for a match, ABMDR continues its vigorous recruitment activities by conducting weekly recruitments not only across the US, but also in Armenia and in several countries in the Middle East (see inset).
The active partnership between ABMDR and Armenian communities worldwide is essential in saving as many Armenian lives as possible. In fatal illnesses of the blood where a bone marrow transplant is the only hope of survival, the critical step is the timely finding of a compatible match. A compatible match means that the donor has the same tissue type as the patient. Tissue type is determined by our genetics and is inherited by our parents. For unrelated people to have the same tissue type is a matter of probability. This probability is greatly enhanced when patient and donor are of the same ethnic background. ABMDR recruits Armenian donors from all over the world with the mission of finding compatible donors for Armenian patients all over the world. A key factor that increases a patient’s chances of finding a match is the number of donors in the registry. Therefore, for those patients who still do not have a match, it is imperative to increase the number of donors in ABMDR. Each newly registered donor stands to save the life of a child, a young father, a brother or a sister. Becoming a donor is easy, painless, and risk-free. Registration takes only minutes. It consists of filling out a form, and giving a sample by swabbing the inside of one’s cheek. DNA is extracted and tissue type determined from this sample. When a donor is matched with a patient, the donor’s stem cells are collected in a procedure similar to blood donation, and involves no surgery, no anesthesia, no risk or discomfort to the donor. For the patient, the timeliness of finding a match is crucial. ABMDR strongly urges patients and their families to start their active search for a match as soon as diagnosis is made, even if the patient is in remission at the time. Waiting till the patient relapses may be too late. By then, the patient may be too weak or too sick to receive a transplant, and even a perfect match won’t be of use.
ABMDR is here to save Armenian lives across the world. It, in turn, relies on Armenian volunteers to become donors, and Armenian organizations to spread the word, facilitate recruitment drives, and help us in our fundraising efforts. ABMDR relies on donations from the Armenian community to continue its mission.
About the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry: Established in 1999, the ABMDR, a nonprofit organization that helps Armenians worldwide survive life-threatening blood-related illnesses by recruiting and matching donors to those requiring bone marrow stem cell transplants. To date, the registry has recruited over 15,000 donors across three continents, identified 1,305 patients, found 1,033 potential matches, and facilitated nine bone marrow transplants.
Future Recruitment Drives
-Forty Martyrs Arm. Apostolic Church, 5315 W. McFadden Avenue, Santa Ana, CA 92704 (11:30am to 2pm)
-Glendale St Mary’s Apostolic Church, 500 S. Central Ave., Glendale, CA 91204 (11:30am to 2pm)
-Hollywood St Garabed Apostolic Church, 1614 N. Alexandria Ave., Hollywood, CA 90027 – (11:30am to 2pm)
-Encino Holy Martyrs Armenian Apostolic Church, 5300 White Oak Ave., Encino, CA 91316- (11:30am to 2pm)
-Glendale St. Gregory Armenian Catholic Church, Mountain. (12:00am to 2:00 pm)
-St John Armenian Church, Hollywood1201 North Vine StreetHollywood, CA 90038 (7 p.m.-9 p.m.)
-Armenian Apostolic Church Burbank3325 N. Glenoaks Blvd.Burbank CA 91504 (7 p.m.-9 p.m.)
Montebello Genocide Memorial-Bicknell Park, Montebello, CA
Time Square, NYC, NY
April 24, following April 24 commemoration Day
St Vartan’s Catherdral NYC, NY
April 24 and 25
April 17: Joint recruitment with Armenian Releif Society HOM in Erablur
April 20: Recruitment at State Economic Institute’s Gyumri branch.
April 24: Recruitment at the Armenian Genocide Memorial Zizernakaberd.