Thursday, February 09, 2012

AAK! PSA: Donate Bone Marrow!

The Korean will give the floor to Debbie Kim:

Dear Korean,

I am hoping that you get a chance to read this email. My name is Debbie Kim and I am writing today to ask a favor.

I'm from the suburbs of Chicago and a boy at our church, who's family I have known for a long time and who battled ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) a few years ago has now been diagnosed with a rare form of another cancer - Myeloid Proliferative Disease. The reason I write is because he needs a bone marrow donation or he will die. For the past 10 days he has undergone extremely high doses of chemotherapy to hopefully destroy any remaining cancerous cells. The next step is to wait if he goes into remission and if he DOES go into remission, he will need a bone marrow transplant immediately. They have tested members of his family, including his parents and his sister and they are not a match. The best chance for patients like Andrew is your own family but if not, typically people within your ethnicity are the next best chance. But there have been cases of non-similar ethnicity matches. So we are trying all venues to get as many people to join the registry with hope that we will find a match. For whatever reason, Asian Americans (or for any ethnic minority) the number of registrants are extremely low. We held a drive at our church this past week and had about 200 people sign up (myself included :)) but want to increase the chances of a match by as many means as possible.

Joining the registry is not something to be taken lightly and more information can be found at Also joining the registry means you are in the database to be matched to anyone in the world, not just our friend Andrew. That being said, joining the registry is very easy - just 4 cheek swabs with a kit with cotton swabs that can be sent directly to your house.

I am reaching out hoping that you can post something to encourage people, especially Asian Americans to join the Bone Marrow Donation Registry at Be The Match ( If you need anymore specific information or would like to talk to the families directly, please let me know. I can do my best to answer any questions or direct you to who can best answer them.

Below is the blog for Andrew and his updates. I've also included another blog for another little boy who is also in desparate need for a bone marrow transplant - the heartbreaking piece of this story is they found a match earlier this month but the donor (from Japan) backed out. or

Please, please- even if I get one person to join, that is one more person on the registry who can potentially save a life. I have a child who also has been in the hospital for heart surgeries and I share in the pain and sorrow this family is going through. If it was my child going through this, it would not be beneath me to be begging in the streets with a q-tip looking for a match - so I do this on their behalf and beg you to get the word out.

Thank you,
Debbie Kim

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. done!!! I hope I am a match. God willing.

  2. I finally got off my lazy ass a couple days ago after seeing Janet Liang's video and registered with bethematch. I don't know why I didn't do it sooner. No excuse really. It only took about fifteen minutes. Still waiting for the kit, but I'm sending it out as soon as I get it. Korean American here. Praying that I'm a match. God bless.

  3. Thanks AAK for posting! Thanks everyone who did or who will join.

  4. Done, waiting for the kit. Thanks, TK and Debbie.

  5. done!! Didn't realize that less than 1% of all registered are Korean?!! C'mon Koreans, we don't like being in the bottom percentile!!! =)

  6. Is this org (BeTheMatch) related to the Canadian's stem cell and bone marrow registry

    Do I need to register (from Canada) with the former if already registered with the latter?

  7. @jeansdream- bethematch is the umbrella organization in the United States. I believe if you are already part of any registry, you do not need to sign up again. When they search for a donor, they search internationally. But I would check to be sure. Thanks!

  8. Debbie, I have already sent an email to both OneMatch and BeTheMatch for this question. If I get confirmation that I need to register with the latter, I will do my part.

    Thanks for being an angel in the battle. You are not fighting alone. Power to you and whom you fight with.

  9. Here's some pretty good reasoning for bone marrow registration:

    The site says that around 1 in 500 people who sign up are asked to donate bone marrow at some point. I feel like it's almost like entering a lottery, but instead of having a one in 20 million chance of winning a lot of money, you have a relatively decent chance of saving someone's life. Surely the amount of effort it takes to register is worth that chance.

  10. I've got confirmation from BeTheMatch / NMDP that Canadian donors should register with OneMatch and OneMatch (and all other cooperative registries) will be searched for patients in the States.

    I am going to ask my Korean friends in Canada to register with OneMatch.


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