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Asha Dornfest is the founder and editor of Parent Hacks, a blog that shares "forehead-smackingly smart parenting tips." She's also the coauthor of Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less, with Christine Koh. Asha lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two kids.

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Social media may save your life

By Asha Dornfest |

 

Amit Gupta needs you!
Photo credit: amitgupta.com

Amit Gupta has leukemia. He needs a bone marrow donor, but the chances of a South Asian finding a match are 1 in 20,000.

If Amit were white, his chances of success would rise to 4 in 5.

Why the disparity? Because the majority of registrants in the National Marrow Donor Program are white. A simple matter of numbers. The more people of color join the Registry, the better chance everyone has of potentially-lifesaving treatment.

But Amit has something most people waiting for a marrow transplant don’t have: a deep familiarity with social networking combined with a massive stockpile of goodwill.

When Amit found out he had leukemia, he shared the news with his social network, and he asked for help filling the Registry with more potential donors of color.

The response has been monumental. Blog posts, tweets,  and Facebook updates have led to donor drives around the world, offers of cash rewards, and news coverage. As he undergoes chemotherapy, Amit (@superamit on Twitter) is retweeting, “liking,” and spreading the word.

I’m telling you this for several reasons.

I want you to know about Amit. I’ve “known” Amit in the online sense for several years. We’ve emailed about clever photography crafts and projects he’s published in his newsletter Photojojo, but it was enough for me to know he’s someone special.

I’m asking you to join the Marrow Donor Program. No matter what your background, the Marrow Donor Program needs you. Getting tested is painless, easy, and free (they mail you a kit you use at home, you swab your cheeks, and you send it back).

If you’re selected as a donor, the actual donation process is non-surgical and relatively painless as well. Amit’s doctor has requested donation in the form of peripheral blood stem cells, and the process is similar to blood donation. (Marrow donation, which is done less often but which some patients require, is a surgical process. The Marrow Donor Program website describes the donation process in detail.)

I had to overcome a lot of fear to register. But my — our — fear can’t compare to what Amit or any other leukemia patient must be feeling. Fear isn’t a reason not to help.

I want you to know how important you are. We’ve all wasted time on Twitter, Facebook and the Web. But we can also harness our time online to change lives. We might even save lives. You might save someone’s life.

The Marrow Donation Program needs your kit by November 30, 2011 in order to help Amit. Order your free test kit now, or go to a donor drive in your area. There are more ways to help. I hope you will.

I’ll leave you with this, from Amit (as told to Keith Wagstaff of TIME):

I honestly don’t know if we’re going to find a perfect match for me—though of course I really hope we do—but I’m heartened by the fact that every swab and every registration we’re able to drive has the potential to help someone with leukemia in the future.

So we’re helping others fighting the same disease now, and I certainly hope people with other diseases who see this and find themselves in a similar position can take something from what’s happened here to help them reach more people and better their chances. That’d be really rad.

Update 1/18/12: Amit found a donor!

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About Asha Dornfest

asha

Asha Dornfest

Asha Dornfest is the founder and editor of Parent Hacks, a blog that shares "forehead-smackingly smart parenting tips." She's also the coauthor of Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less, with Christine Koh. Asha lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two kids. Read bio and latest posts → Read Asha's latest posts →

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4 thoughts on “Social media may save your life

  1. Asha Dornfest says:

    Thanks for the comment, JM. Clearly, that is a different procedure than I had read about. I will research this more closely today and leave another comment, and update the post if I wrote something incorrect. Thank you VERY much for pointing this out.

  2. Asha Dornfest says:

    JM (and all): There are two ways to donate: PBSC donation and marrow donation. I have updated the post to explain that the donation method in Amit’s case is PBSC donation — a non-surgical procedure. You are correct that marrow donation (which some patients require) is a surgical procedure. Which type of donation is up to the patient’s doctor.

    I’ve included links to Marrow.org’s FAQs and descriptions of the donation process.

    Thank you very much for pointing this out. I do NOT want to mislead people about what’s involved in joining the registry.

  3. [...] opened my computer I was witness to yet another remarkable moment in our community. Amit Gupta (who I told you about in November) found a marrow donor. A couple we’ve all come to know and care about over the years is [...]

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