Thursday, June 07, 2007

Yul Kwon of Survivor, Harrison Update and New PSA

Yul Kwon: AADP Spokesperson
Yul Kwon, the winner of Survivor: Cook Islands has decided to serve as a spokesperson for the Asian American Donor Program (AADP). He actually first became involved with AADP as a Stanford undergrad when his best friend and fraternity brother was diagnosed with Leukemia. He helped organize a donor drive at the time, but unfortunately his friend didn't make it. He's now back helping AADP by publicizing this life threatening issue and encouraging people to register as marrow donors. Finding a marrow match is especially challenging for the Asian American community because of the low number of registered donors. It's great that Yul is using his fame to highlight this hidden and deadly problem. Check out A Message from Yul Kwon.

Update: Harrison Leonardo
Several months ago the plight of then 2 year-old Harrison Leonardo was featured on He was desperately in need of a bone marrow transplant for Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). Well, some good news. First, he celebrated his 3rd birthday in March. He also received a very nice birthday present: an umbilical cord blood donation from Spain! He's definitely not out of the woods yet. A bone marrow transplant is a long, painful and grueling process. They first have to destroy the existing marrow to kill off all remnants of the disease to make sure it doesn't return. They then replace the destroyed tissue by injecting the donor cells, hoping the new cells grow into healthy bone marrow. So far things are looking up. Harrison's mom has been keeping a journal chronicling his progress on the web site.

New PSA: Elyse Yu
Korean-American Elyse Yu was born in Southern California on February 1, 2007, the oldest of triplet sisters. According to Hellin's Law, the odds for triplets are roughly 8,100 to 1, making her and her sisters quite special. Those odds pale in comparison to Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), a rare blood disease that strikes one-in-a-million people. Unfortunately, Elyse has the rare distinction of being a triplet and also having HLH. Like Harrison and Yul's friend, she also desperately needs a bone marrow transplant and her best potential match lies within the Asian American community. A friend of the Yu family emailed me her story to help spread the word. Kimchi Mamas also posted a story about Elyse earlier this week as well. If you're in the Southern California area, there are several donor drives going on for Elyse. For a schedule of drives and more information about Elyse, visit her web site at
Elyse's Story on YouTube.

Please Register Today
If you haven't already, please, please register as a potential marrow donor. Check the links for a local donor drive or call for a free kit. With Yul as a spokesperson and our individual efforts, we can get the word out about this life threatening challenge to the Asian American community. Look deeply at your sons and daughters, your brothers and sisters, your mothers and fathers. Look deeply at all those who you care about and love. Now imagine them going through the same challenges that Harrison, Elyse and others face on a daily basis. Imagine the ongoing struggles and seemingly impossible odds stacked against you and your loved ones. What would you do? What could you do? You can start be taking just a few minutes to register as a potential donor and give hope to those who so desperately need it. I can't imagine what my life would be like without my baby boy. He means everything to me as I'm sure your children mean to you and what Harrison and Elyse mean to their parents. They and others in the Asian American community need our support. Please register today.

Donor Drives and Home Test Kits
IN NEW YORK for more info including additional drives or to receive a home test kit, please contact DKMS AMERICAS at 1-866-340-3567.
IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA please contact Marc Loresto at Asians for a Miracle Marrow Match (888) 236-4673 X172 or visit the A3M website for more local drives in the LA , San Diego and Orange County areas.
IN HAWAII please contact Roy Yamashiro at the Hawaiian Bone Marrow Registry (877) 443-6667.
IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA (Bay Area) please contact Cynthia Carlson, Recruitment Specialist at the National Marrow Donor Program at or Carol Gillespie, Executive Director of Asian American Donor Program at
IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA (Merced to Oregon Border) please contact Bloodsource in Sacramento at 1-800-995-4420
IN ARIZONA please contact Oscar with NMDP at 602-242-5459.
There's a list of U.S. and International donor centers on the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) web site.
U.S. Donor Centers
International Donor Centers


Kristin said...

do u have information for Massachusetts?

And do you know the process of donating marrow? I donate blood as much as possible and would definitely consider donating my marrow.

The Newbie Dad said...

Hi Kristin,

Here's some specific info around the MA area. Thanks for your interest!

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
44 Binney Street
Boston, MA 02115-6013
(617) 632-2561
(866) 875-3324

National Marrow Donor Program of New England - Springfield
P.O. Box 80115
Springfield, MA 01138
(413) 732-1614
(800) 471-4431

The following Donor Center(s) also cover(s) all or part of Massachusetts.

The HLA Registry A Division of Community Blood Services
Division of Community Blood Services
800 Kinderkamack Road
Suite 300
Oradell, NJ 07649
(201) 705-1799
(800) 336-3363

The Newbie Dad said...

Updated post to include links to a list of US and International Donor Centers.

Mama Nabi said...

Hi Kristin - not that I'm an expert or anything but I work at a medical school so got the skinny from a BMT doc from my department: To be on the donor registry, you just do a mouth swab (like a CSI swab) and they enter your tissue type into the computer. If you happen to be a match for someone, I'm told that there are 2 ways: via blood or via bone marrow. The bone marrow procedure is a bit more extensive and you'd get either an epidural or general anesthesia for that procedure.

daddy in a strange land said...

Thanks for posting about this again, ND. I registered a few years ago specifically because I'd seen too many calls for donors for young hapa kids who couldn't find a match. Even though we don't have a family history of leukemia or anything like that, that influenced us to bite the bullet (well, my folks helped a lot!) and freeze The Pumpkin's cord blood thru ViaCord.