HOUSTON (FOX 26) — Being a stem cell or bone marrow donor sounds like a daunting task, but it couldn’t be easier.
First, visit BeTheMatch.org and complete a questionnaire. You’ll get a swab kit in the mail that you roll around in your mouth and mail back.
"Donors and patients who match are obviously going to share the same DNA and most donors who match a patient are going to have the same ethnic or racial background,” said Markia Bordeaux, a spokeswoman for Be the Match.
Minority donors are desperately needed.
Of the 14 million registered donors, only four percent are African American and only eight percent are Hispanic or Asian.
Being a bone marrow donor is a simple 30-minute outpatient procedure that might make you sore for a couple of days.
"It’s about a twenty percent chance you’ll be asked to give marrow,” said Bordeaux. "Most of the time you’re asked to give stem cells or a blood donation.”
"A couple of months ago, I had a pain episode where my entire body was hurting," said Mia Wright.
"I can’t explain how it feels. It hurts really bad, like my teeth was hurting, my tongue, my eyeballs, like everything hurt.”
Wright has been dealing with sickle cell disease since she was five. The only known cure is a bone marrow transplant but she has yet to find a donor.
"If that would happen for me, that would be the greatest thing for me," said Wright. "I would finally have a chance to see what it’s like to be normal."
Animal advocate Claudine Vass signed up to be a donor sixteen years ago. She recently heard she might be the perfect match for a 30-year-old Asian man in Germany.
"I was ecstatic to get that call and basically we cried, I cried,” said Vass. "It was like being touched by the Holy Spirit.”