Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Every year, more than 12,000 patients in the U.S. are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases such as leukemia or lymphoma for which a bone-marrow transplant or a transfusion of umbilical cord blood is their best or only hope of a cure.
About 70 percent of patients in need of a transplant do not have a matching donor in their family. They depend on the Be The Match Registry to find an unrelated donor or umbilical cord blood unit. One person waiting for a bone marrow transplant is North Carolina Central University sophomore Sheldon Mba.
A year ago, Mba started to have flu-like symptoms, was constantly fatigued and despite rest and diet changes, didn’t improve. He subsequently learned that he had paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), a progressive and destructive disease that results when the body’s red blood cells, missing a key protein, are attacked by white blood cells. Mba also aplastic anemia, a blood disorder in which the body's bone marrow doesn't make enough new blood cells. Every two weeks Mba heads to the UNC Hematology Clinic for treatment, and he takes eight medications on a daily basis. “I never know how I’ll feel,” Mba said. “That’s why I focus on dance education. I have learned that despite not being a performer, I can still be a dancer.”
Today, Sheldon is the face of the DoSomething.org campaign, “Give a Spit.” The partnership between Be the Match and DoSomething.org seeks to increase the number of bone marrow donors of color.
Partnering with Be the Match, NCCU will host a bone marrow drive #SwabforSheldon on Saturday, Oct. 19 during Homecoming. Representatives from Be the Match, the world’s largest and most diverse registry of potential marrow donors and donated cord blood units, will be on the NCCU campus registering people at three locations:
Media are invited to attend any of the drives and should contact the NCCU Office of Public Relations for parking and logistics. To interview Sheldon Mba, please call 919-530-6295 or 919-530-7219. To learn more about Mba, the bone marrow drive and the national marrow donor program, please click here http://ow.ly/pNKG0.