Tracy is the eldest of our four children. Age 43, devoted wife, exceptional ER physician. She worked for only three years before becoming sick and, in that short time, had earned the respect of her patients and colleagues. Tracy and James are the fun loving parents of two sparkly kids. Noah is 15 years of age, bright and delightful. His sister, Tess, age 11, is a sunny, happy-go-lucky young girl. These two are the reason I am writing.
Tracy is Filipino American. Her dad was born in Iloilo, Philippines and I have American, Irish and German ancestry. The only way Noah and Tess can grow up with their mom in their lives is for Fil Am young people to get on the donor list at BE THE MATCH. You see, out of the 11 million people in the National Marrow Registry, not ONE person matches Tracy and can save her life!
Tracy is not the only one in such an urgent life and death situation. There are just not enough 100% Filipinos, Fil Am mix or Asian Americans in general on the marrow donor list. Here in the US, there are small Filipino kids with leukemia who have no match and no chance to survive. I can only imagine the heartbreak of those little ones’ parents who pray and wait for a hero. Please look at Asian American Donor Program (aadp.org) to read the stories of patients who wait for a hero.
I ask all our Filipino friends to reflect on their blessings and their good health. We thank God for all He has given to us. There are times when we take our health and good fortune for granted and I know I did before my daughter’s illness.
Our family is relying on the good will and generosity of our Fil Am country mates to come to Tracy’s aid, sign up for the donor registry and be a potential donor for her. Ever if we cannot find a match for our loved one, we would be thrilled and honored if, by these efforts, another sister or brother Pinoy would find a match and be cured! It might even be someone you know or love who needs the blessing of a marrow donor one day.
It is easy, quick and free for anyone, age 18-44, to get on the donor list. Just go to bethematch.org and “join”. Fill out a short application and receive your home cheek swab kit by mail. Follow the directions to swab the inside of your mouth and return the kit in the envelope provided. It’s that simple.
Once someone is in the registry, what happens if they “match” with a patient? The donation procedure is much easier than it used to be. The old method of aspirating marrow directly from the hip is seldom used any more. These days the donor has an IV in each arm while a machine removes the extra stem cells from their blood. One or two days after the procedure, the donor is back to his or her usual routine. Donors say that it is a truly moving experience to know that they may have saved a life! How many of us get the chance to save a life?
Tracy has said to me with tears filling her eyes, “Mom, I am not afraid, but I do not want to leave James and our kids. They need me.”
This is why I write.