WASHINGTON - It was a family affair as Howard University student athletes, cheerleaders, SHOWTIME marching band and Royal Court built awareness around the importance of African Americans joining registration lists for life-saving bone marrow and stem cell transplants.
Good Morning America and local ABC7News health reporter Victoria Sanchez broadcast live from Burr Gymnasium, one of several locations around the country hosting events for Be the Match, the national organization that seeks to match donors with patients.
The broadcast featured boisterous music from the HU Showtime Marching Band, performances from the Ooh La La Danceline, Dazzlin Diamond Twirlers, and the HU cheerleaders. Members of the football, lacrosse, and volleyball teams, Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity, also added their energy for the morning shows live shot's with the goal of promoting awareness for this important cause.
With a simple 20-second swab of the cheek, Be The Match is on a mission to get more potential donors. Having more African Americans listed on the registry is extremely important. According to the organization, African Americans suffering from conditions affecting blood cells like cancer and other blood diseases have the lowest chance of finding a match. The match rate for African Americans is an alarming 29%, compared to 79% for White Americans. Only 8% of the donor registration list is made up of African Americans.
Over the week, Be the Match volunteers set up tables at Blackburn and the Undergraduate Library to build awareness and encourage students to consider registration. Be the Match organizers said 173 Howard students were swabbed and signed up for the registration list.
The cause hit close to home for Anne Laurie M. Pierre, a Howard sophomore studying biology, chemistry, and African American Studies from Boston. In 2020, her mother’s cancer returned. After experiencing the pain of losing her father to colon cancer, Pierre decided to put up a fight.
As her mother suffered in the hospital, Pierre started to do some research online.
When she came across information about bone marrow and stem cell transplants, she immediately knew what she had to do – get herself tested to see if she would be a match. Ultimately, Pierre was able to donate bone marrow that saved her mother’s life.
“It is so important to register because in the Black community it’s hard for us to get a compatible match,” Pierre said. “This is an important event at Howard University because we need to help people who look like us – sometimes our own family members.”
For more information on how to join the donor registration list please visit bethematch.org.
About Howard University
Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 14 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced two Schwarzman Scholars, four Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows, and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African American PhD recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu.