Only 20% of minorities are equipped to find a match when they involve a transplant. But for just one African American mom of five, finding that match meant the present of lifetime.
Family members is anything to Felicia Curtis. Spouse and children is the rationale the mother of five from Gainesville, Florida, understood she had to battle when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2017. She was 20 months pregnant with her youngest little one.
Over the upcoming quite a few months, Curtis underwent various rounds of chemotherapy to battle the most cancers. Her son was born wholesome at 33 months. The future looked brilliant.
But 6 months later on, the cancer returned and the prognosis appeared grim.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma accounts for 4% of all cancer diagnoses in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Culture. A lot more than 81,000 folks are diagnosed yearly with the disease, and much more than 20,000 will die from it.
Curtis’ health treatment vendors in Gainesville recommended she shift her treatment to Mayo Clinic because it has an substantial bone marrow transplant method.
In August 2019, after conference with Ernesto Ayala, M.D., a Mayo Clinic hematologist and oncologist who specializes in caring for individuals with cancers like hers, Felicia underwent an autologous bone marrow transplant. The treatment uses healthy blood stem cells from a patient’s have entire body to replace diseased or harmed bone marrow.
The remedy seemed to work for a minor though and Curtis felt great, but the most cancers returned yet once again. She was not organized to give up, nonetheless.
“But I believed I was intended to be listed here to elevate my family,” she states, noting her assurance in her Mayo Clinic care workforce. Her religion was not unfounded.
Difficulties in locating a donor
Dr. Ayala had a approach for Curtis. He prompt a next transplant ― an allogeneic stem cell transplant that depends on wholesome cells from a donor.
There was only a person challenge: Curtis is African American, and it can be complicated for patients of coloration to locate a donor.
“The most important obstacle that we have to finding donors to commence with bone marrow transplantation is ethnicity,” Dr. Ayala says. “Only about 20% of all minority people find a match.”
Siblings and parents are from time to time matches. Or else, a match may be discovered in the national bone marrow donation registry. The dilemma is most men and women registered as donors are white.
“The most critical variable when we glimpse for a donor is HLA matching. HLA stands for human leukocyte antigens, which in essence are just markers in the floor of the cells,” Dr. Ayala suggests. But acquiring the most exceptional match suggests a far better likelihood at accomplishment.
In Curtis’ circumstance, family users had been screened very first and then dominated out. A look for of the nationwide bone marrow registry unveiled only partial matches.
Getting a match
Curtis commenced educating people and encouraging good friends and other people to be screened as bone marrow donors ― if not for herself, then to aid another person else.
“There is a absence of understanding and understanding about what it is to sign-up and to be a donor, and how it can influence a lot of lives by you just doing one particular selfless act,” she says.
She bought a contact in August 2020 that a match experienced been situated. It was specifically a single 12 months from the day of her initially transplant.
Browse the rest of Felicia’s tale on Sharing Mayo Clinic.