Local US Army Vet Seeks Donor for Life-Saving Transplant

The 33-year-old has a significantly lower chance in finding a match because he's African American, according to Be The Match Registry

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A local U.S. army veteran is hoping someone who sees his story chooses to be a donor at Be The Match.

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

For four months, Poe received a blood transfusion every week. He’s been documenting his journey here.

In February, doctors diagnosed Poe with aplastic anemia, a rare chronic disease that keeps the body from producing enough blood cells.

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

With Poe being immunocompromised, he has to stay in isolation until he can find a match.

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

Be The Match is the world’s largest bone marrow registry. But with just 8% of the registry consisting of African Americans, the chances of Black patients finding a match are just 29% compared to 79% for white patients, according to account manager Terri Haid.

“A patient matches a donor based on tissue type, which is tied into our DNA. That’s why a patient is most likely to match with someone who shares their ethnicity,” said Haid. “About 75 diseases can be cured by a stem cell transplant.”

Haid says decades of medical mistrust and lack of access to information are leading factors.

To become a donor with Be the Match, all you need to do is fill out a form and swab your cheek. Be the Match will mail you the materials to send your sample back.

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

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

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