Happy Stem Cell Awareness Day!

Updated: Sep 15

Have you ever heard of stem cells? Maybe you have heard of stem cells but aren’t quite sure what they are, what they do, and how stem cell donors can save someone’s life.

Today is October 14th, Stem Cell Awareness Day, a wonderful opportunity to learn more about stem cell donation. This day brings organizations and individuals (like you!) from around the world together to learn more about the benefits of stem cells. So let us celebrate the thousands of lives that have been saved and the many more to be saved.

This is the first blog post of a new series about the need for stem cell donations –particularly from members of minority populations. In future posts, you will learn some basic facts about stem cells, why there’s a need for donors, what is involved in donating, and how to register to become a donor.

By the end of the stem cell blog series, you will be able to tell your friends and family about stem cells, what it means to be a donor, the facts about stem cell donation, and what to expect as a donor.

Did you know that the African-American community receives fewer stem cell transplants than the White community? You may be asking, but why?

The reason is because there are not enough suitable donors in the registry.

According to Dr. Horowitz at the Medical College of Wisconsin "The National Marrow Donor Program has made great strides in increasing the number of African-American donors, which is important because non-related donors are more likely to have a tissue type that matches the patient if they are of the same ethnic group". The characteristics used for finding a match are inherited, which means people are more likely to match someone of the same race. This is true for both bone marrow and stem cells but today we are focusing on stem cells.

Specifically speaking, the African-American’s community is in great need for stem cell donors. Studies have found that the African-American community is at a higher risk for sickle cell disease, diabetes and cancer all of which have promising new research indicating that stem cell transplants may be a way to treat these conditions.

Did you know that:

 1 in 400 African-American babies have sickle cell disease

 African-American’s are 1.8 times more likely to have diabetes

 African-American’s have the highest mortality rate of any racial and ethnic group for all cancers combined and most major cancers

Do you have some free time? Want to learn more about stem cells and the African-American community? Here is a wonderful video by Dr. Ruha Benjamin talking about science, stem cells and culture.

In the next stem cell blog, you will learn more of the basic facts about stem cells, what they are, who would need them and what the controversy is about.


Community Conversations: Sister to Sister, a women's health initiative, is an an ongoing, open forum to explore health issues of particular relevance to Black women and their families. 

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