Beginning October 13
(Baton Rouge, La.) Mary Bird Perkins-Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center is taking a step to help increase the number of registered bone marrow donors in the Baton Rouge area, especially those belonging to minority populations. By partnering with Be the Match, a nonprofit organization that matches patients with donors, the Cancer Center will offer bone marrow registration at its free cancer screenings in Baton Rouge, beginning Oct. 13.
Thousands of patients with blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, sickle cell and other life-threatening diseases depend on finding a bone marrow match to save their life. The issue, especially for minorities, recently came to light on the national level when Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts announced that she would need a bone marrow transplant due to a rare blood disorder, myelodysplastic syndrome. In Roberts’ case, she was fortunate because her sister was a match, but for many minority patients the search can be much harder. The chance of finding a match on the national registry is as low as 66 percent for African Americans and other minorities, compared with 93 percent for Caucasians, reports Be the Match.
Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden was also concerned with the bone marrow registration issue and contacted the Cancer Center, asking for help in making bone marrow registration a more visible priority in the community. He recommended the Cancer Center use its free community cancer screenings as a mechanism to help increase donors so that more people have a chance for a match.
“We believe we can make a positive impact on the number of donors registered by approaching them as part of our cancer screening and education services,” said Renea Duffin, Vice President of Cancer Support and Outreach for the Cancer Center. “A focus for us is to get more minorities screened for cancer, thus it makes perfect sense to discuss bone marrow registration while they are already engaged.”
Mayor Holden expressed his appreciation for the Cancer Center’s willingness to take on this important role for our community. “The Cancer Center’s access to the minority community provides a direct connection to the people we are trying hardest to reach,” said Holden. “I hope that residents from across the area register—especially minorities who are vastly underrepresented in the donor registry. Registering with Be the Match is a small thing that can mean everything for someone living with leukemia, lymphoma or another deadly blood disorder.”
The Cancer Center, along with Be the Match and Sisters Network, will launch bone marrow registration at a breast cancer screening Saturday, Oct. 13 from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the BREC Administrative Office, 6201 Florida Boulevard. Appointments are necessary for the breast screening, but not for bone marrow registration. For more information, please call (225) 215-1234 or visit www.marybird.org/OLOL to find other upcoming cancer screenings in Baton Rouge.
Mary Bird Perkins-Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center is the most comprehensive cancer center in Louisiana offering patients the convenience of receiving high-quality, advanced care close to home. The Cancer Center is part of the National Cancer Institute Community Cancer Centers Program (NCCCP), a group of competitively selected cancer centers that are developing a national model for community cancer care.