MLK Marrow Drive

By: Jennifer Blessing Email
By: Jennifer Blessing Email

Brazos Valley residents join nationwide effort on Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service to increase African American marrow donors on Be The Match Registry®

Brooklyn, N.Y., mother of two with leukemia searching for marrow donor showcases challenges for African American patients in need of transplant.

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, friends and family of Jennifer Jones Austin will host donor registry drives across the United States, including one in Bryan/College Station. The donor registry drives are an effort to raise awareness about the need for more African American marrow donors, and to perhaps find a matching donor for 41-year-old Austin and many other patients like her.

Austin, a well-respected community activist for children and families, was recently diagnosed with leukemia and her only hope for a cure is a marrow transplant. Like 70 percent of patients, Austin does not have a matching donor in her family and is depending on the Be The Match Registry – the largest listing of volunteer marrow donors – to find a match.

“Thousands of people like me are searching for their donor match,” Austin said. “By joining the Be The Match Registry you have a special opportunity to offer the gift of life to someone. No higher act of service exists.”

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service event is aimed especially at recruiting more African Americans to join the registry. Patients are more likely to find a match from among donors who share the same race or ethnicity. Yet out of a registry of millions, fewer than 10 percent are African Americans.

Interested volunteers can join the Be The Match Registry at several locations throughout the United States. People also can sign up to be the one to save a life by visiting To join, people need to be between the ages of 18 and 60, willing to donate to any patient in need, and meet health guidelines. Registration is simple and involves completing a health history form and giving a swab of cheek cells. There is no cost to join the Be The Match Registry, but financial contributions help cover the $100 it costs to add each new registry member.

For more information, contact Jennifer Blessing @

About Be The Match®
Be The Match is a movement that engages a growing community of people inspired to help patients who need a marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), a leader in the field of marrow and cord blood transplantation, created Be The Match to provide opportunities for the public to become involved in saving the lives of people with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases. Volunteers can join the Be The Match Registry – the world’s largest and most diverse listing of potential adult marrow donors and donated cord blood units – as well as contribute financially to Be The Match Foundation or give their time. Be The Match Foundation supports the NMDP by raising funds to grow the Be The Match Registry, help patients with transplant costs and advance medical research. Since operations began in 1987, the NMDP has provided more than 35,000 transplants to help give patients a second chance at life. For more information, visit or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.

Jennifer Blessing, Phone: 979-691-3548 Cell: 979-324-4048 E-mail:

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