There Is An Urgent Need For Mixed Race Bone Marrow Donors

The number of interracial couples in the U.S. grew from 28% in just 10 years and that number keeps growing. The Hispanic community leads the way in interracial couples with a whopping 45% of such partnerships. It’s great news that more people are accepting of interracial couples, but medically speaking it can create a problem.

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Sophia Trujillo is a 6 year old that is need of a bone marrow transplant as soon as possible. She suffers from severe aplastic anemia, which is a deficiency of all types of blood cells caused by failure of bone marrow development, so a bone marrow is needed urgently. The problem is that she is of mixed heritage: Filipino, Spanish, Irish and Italian and finding a perfect bone marrow donor is extremely difficult.

Compared to organ transplants, bone marrow donations need to be even more genetically similar to their recipients. This is why Sophia is having such a difficult time finding a bone marrow transplant. She needs to find a donor that matches her same ethnic background. All the immune system’s cells come from bone marrow, so a transplant introduces a new immune system to a person. Without the genetic similarity, the new white blood cells will attack the recipient’s body.

The simple thing would be to get a bone marrow transplant from a family member, right? No exactly, because even within our own family members, the chance of finding a perfect match are only about 30%. The sad part is that people of mixed race have a 1 in 4 chance of finding a match.