Local US Army Vet Seeks Donors for Life-Saving Transplant – NBC Chicago

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A local US Army veteran is hoping someone who sees his story will choose to be a donor to Be The Match.

Last October, 33-year-old Burrell Poe went to the doctor for shortness of breath. At the time, all the doctors knew was that his platelet count was dangerously low.

For four months, Poe received a blood transfusion every week. He documented his journey here.

In February, doctors diagnosed Poe with aplastic anemia, a rare chronic condition that prevents the body from making enough blood cells.

“I was at high risk of internal bleeding. If it had happened, I wouldn’t have known,” Poe said. “I could have fallen off my bike and that would have been a death sentence.”

Because Poe is immunocompromised, he must remain isolated until he finds a match.

“The only curative intervention, medical intervention, is a stem cell transplant,” Poe said.

Be The Match is the world’s largest bone marrow registry. But since only 8% of the registry is made up of African Americans, black patients have a 29% chance of finding a match, compared to 79% for white patients, according to Account Manager Terri Haid.

“A patient is matched to a donor based on the tissue type linked to our DNA. Because of this, a patient is most closely matched to someone who shares their ethnicity,” Haid said. “About 75 diseases can be cured by stem cell transplantation.”

Haid says decades of medical mistrust and lack of access to information are the main reasons.

To become a donor at Be the Match, all you have to do is fill out a form and swab your cheek. Be the Match will send you the materials to return your sample.

If you are interested, click here. You can also text SaveBurrell to 61474.

“You can help someone,” Poe said. “You can save my life.”

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