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Saving a Life with a Swab
Minority cancer patients face donor shortages



Vinay Chakravarty's cancer came back in January 2008 after his
bone marrow transplant. He died in June 2008. Team Vinay helped
register more than 20,000 potential donors.

By Nayna Sasidharan
Dec. 16, 2007

When patients with a blood disorder need a bone marrow transplant, their best chance is to look within their ethnic community.

However, minorities face an agonizing wait when searching for bone marrow transplants. The South Asian Marrow Association of Recruiters, SAMAR, says South Asians in America have a 1 in 20,000 chance of finding a bone marrow match, a stark difference from Caucasians, who have a 1 in 16 chance.

Vinay Chakravarty is one such patient, who found a match after months of waiting. Team Vinay, an organization formed by family and friends, launched national bone marrow drives and P.R. events to get Asian Americans to register.

Even after donors are registered, they can back out of actually giving their bone marrow, if a match is made. SAMAR finds many South Asians do back out due to superstition and cultural apathy.

Inbox Correspondent Nayna Sasidharan reports on the need for South Asians to be educated on this community crisis.

The anatomy of a bone marrow drive

Jasmine Mathews' childhood friend, 28-year-old Bevin Varughese, needs a bone marrow match. To help her friend, Mathews decided to expand the work of Swab4Bevin which began in New York, by organizing activities in New England. A few weeks ago, at Boston University's Indian Culture Show, Mathews and other Swab4Bevin volunteers ran a bone marrow drive.

Vinay's message to South Asians

 

 

 

Q&A with Vikram and Roopjyot

 

 

 

 

Vikramjit Chhabra and wife Roopjyot Kaur coordinate donor efforts for SAMAR in New England. They both work from their home, organizing and teaching others on conducting drives. Kaur also serves as the liaison between the National Marrow Donor Program and a potential donor.

For more information, go to: www.marrow.org