A local US Army veteran hopes someone who sees his story will choose to be a donor to Be The Match.
Last October, 33-year-old Burrell Poe went to the doctor after feeling short of breath. At the time, doctors only knew that his platelet count was dangerously low.
For four months, Poe received a blood transfusion every week. He documented his trip here.
In February, doctors diagnosed Poe with aplastic anemia, a rare chronic condition that prevents the body from producing enough blood cells.
“I was at high risk for internal bleeding. Once that happened, I wouldn’t have known about it,” Poe said. “I could have fallen off my bike and that would have been a death sentence.”
Since Poe is immunocompromised, he must remain isolated until he can find a match.
“The only curative intervention, a medical intervention, is a stem cell transplant,” Poe said.
Be The Match is the largest bone marrow registry in the world. But with only 8% of the registry made up of African Americans, the odds of black patients finding a match are only 29% compared to 79% for white patients, according to account manager Terri Haid.
“A patient matches a donor based on the type of tissue, which is linked to our DNA. That’s why a patient is more likely to correspond with someone who shares their ethnicity,” Haid said. “About 75 diseases can be cured by a stem cell transplant.”
Haid says decades of medical distrust and lack of access to information are the main factors.
To become a donor with Be the Match, all you have to do is fill out a form and dab your cheek. Be the Match will send you the materials needed to return your sample.
If you are interested, click here. You can also text SaveBurrell to 61474.
“You can help somebody,” Poe said. “You can save my life.”