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Black Patients Battling Blood Cancers, Sickle Cell Disease Struggle To Find Lifesaving Bone Marrow Donors

“Ethnicity plays a major role in matching donors with patients."

Black patients battling blood cancers and other blood-related illnesses like sickle cell disease, struggle to find lifesaving bone marrow transplants as black donors continue to be disproportionately represented on national registries.

Although 30 percent of patients find donor matches in family members, 70 percent rely solely on stranger donations. However, black donors make up only six percent of registered donors in the U.S. and seven percent globally.

National African American Bone Marrow Month, which is celebrated in July, aims to bring awareness to the donor deficit. Donors and recipients are matched using genetic markers known as human leukocyte antigens. Since HLA markers help determine how the body’s immune system responds to foreign cells, transplants are more likely to be successful when patients and donors are from the same, or similar, ethnic background.

Statistically, black adults have a 76 percent chance of finding a donor match, compared to a 97 percent chance for whites. In addition, black cancer patients have the highest death rate, and shortest survival rate, of any ethnic group. Multiple studies also found racial disparities in childhood leukemia.

DKMS, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating leukemia, and other blood-related illnesses, has registered more than 8 million bone marrow and blood stem cell donors around the world. In “historically underserved” the communities, the organization works to diversify donor registries through bone marrow donor drives, public forums, and other campaigns to register and educate donors on an issue that “remains clouded in myths and misconception,” says Jaclinn Taney, Chief Development Officer for DKMS, U.S.

“Ethnicity plays a major role in matching donors with patients and due to the lack of representation of minorities on the registry, particularly in the black community, this means patients of minority backgrounds will face much steeper odds in finding their lifesaver,” Taney tells VIBE. “Recognizing this disparity and the impact it has on the communities most in need, DKMS is committed to proactively engage young and diverse lifesavers until the donor pool reflects the makeup of the current US population [African-Americans make up six percent of the national registry, yet are slightly over 12 percent of the U.S. population].”

Besides large-scale registration efforts, DKMS pilots campaigns for children like Darian, an 8-year-old Texas boy battling sickle cell disease.

Since being introduced to Darian and his family through Children’s Health Dallas, DKMS has commissioned a team to find a “lifesaving match” for the boy. Darian previously matched with two possible donors, but they were unable to continue with their donations. The second-grader is one of millions around the globe battling the blood disorder, which affects around 100,000 people in the U.S. According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 365 black children is born with sickle cell disease.

Darian was diagnosed with sickle cell disease at 10 days old and has been in and out of the hospital ever since.

See more on his story in the video below.

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Earlier in the month, a Texas jury convicted Guyger of first-degree murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Guyger shot and killed Jean, her 26-year-old neighbor, in his home last year. Guyger maintained that she walked into Jean’s apartment thinking it was her unit, and subsequently killed the unarmed accountant out of fear that he was an introducer.

Her reported notice of appeal comes amid legal strife involving Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot, and trial Judge Tammy Kemp. Creuzot, who is facing contempt charges for doing an interview that aired the night before Guyger's trial began, requested that Kemp be removed from  his case. Meanwhile, Kemp has come under fire after she hugged Guyger in court, and handed her a Bible. Kemp defended her actions, noting that Guyger asked for a hug after the sentencing phase was over. Kemp wasn’t alone in embracing Guyger, Jean’s brother hugged her as well.

A hearing in the contempt case is scheduled for Oct. 31.

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Kanye West Will Preview ‘Jesus Is King,’ And IMAX Film At Los Angeles Event

After previewing his album in New York, Detroit, Chicago and taking Sunday Service to Jamaica this past weekend, Kanye West will bring his traveling musical sermon back to Los Angeles for a special listening session and film screening.

West is expected to preview his forthcoming Jesus Is King album and accompanying IMAX film, at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on Wednesday (Oct. 23). The Nick Knight-directed documentary, which was shot over the summer, brings the Chicago native’s “famed Sunday Service to life in the Roden Crater,” artist James Turrell's  never-before-seen installation created in Arizona's Painted Desert.

Tickets for the Jesus is King Album & Film Experience are free to the public, and will be released on a first come, first serve basis, at 10 a.m. PST via Ticketmaster. Fans who pre-ordered Jesus Is King scored early access to tickets to the event on Tuesday.

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Jesus Is King is slated to drop on Oct. 25.

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Future To Honor Atlanta Senior Citizens At 8th Annual Golden Wishes Gala

In the coming weeks, Future will use his FreeWishes Foundation to honor senior citizens in his hometown of Atlanta.

The Golden Wishes Gala, now in its eighth year, "celebrates seniors and their impactful lifelong contributions to the community," according to a press release. The event has grown from 45 guests at the YMCA to more than 750 guests at Georgia Aquarium. Seniors aged 62 and up are all welcome with an ID and RSVP.

Future founded FreeWishes along with his mother Stephanie Jester and his sister Tia Wilburn-Anderson to "deliver a message of hope, perseverance and resilience to our community by lending support and making dreams come alive." Along with the annual gala, FreeWishes served more than 700 seniors from Metro Atlanta for the FreeWishes Senior Fitness Day, and presented scholarships at each stop of Future's Legendary Nights Tour earlier this year.

Visit FreeWishes.org to register for the gala, or email [email protected] for sponsorships and donations.

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