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Junior Claus

Source: @Vdavisvisuals / majic 1075

Nine-year-old Thor Forte of North Carolina dreams of becoming a pilot and joining the military when he grows up. But first, he needs a bone marrow donor to cure him of sickle cell disease.

Thor is one of approximately 100,000 African Americans who struggle with Sickle Cell Disease, the most common genetic blood disorder, which can cause life-threatening complications such as stroke or organ failure. His childhood has been afflicted with excruciating bouts of pain, frequent blood transfusions, numerous hospital visits and fatigue.

For patients like Thor, access to a cure is made more difficult because of his ethnicity. African Americans currently in need of bone marrow transplants only have a 23% chance of finding a suitable match on the donor registry, compared to a 77% likelihood for Caucasians, primarily because only 4% of the 22 million donors on the Be The Match Registry are Black or African American. Bone marrow transplants are more likely to be compatible when the donor has the same race or ethnic background as the patient. More Black donors are urgently needed to help improve the chances that patients like Thor can find a match.

Kier Spates aka “Junior” from “The Steve Harvey Show” was also born with sickle cell disease. He was told by doctors that he wouldn’t live past the age of 11. Junior shared his story and interviewed Thor as part of Be The Match’s #Couch2Cure Live campaign.

Diverse donors who are in generally good health and ages 18-44 years old can register for free at https://join.bethematch.org/ForThor and Be The Match will mail a cheek swab kit to their home. It’s easy to swab your cheek for 10 seconds and return in a postage paid envelope. Registry members are only called for additional testing if they are identified as a potential match for a patient in dire need of a transplant. 1 in 430 Registry Members will go on to help save a life.

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Sickle cell disease affects 1 in 365 African Americans, including me. A bone marrow transplant is the only cure for sickle cell. I am excited to be able to support Be The Match in their goal to diversify the bone marrow registry so patients like 9-year-old Thor have a better chance of finding a perfect match and getting a bone marrow transplant. Take a moment to listen to my journey and find out what Thor is hoping to do in the future if he can find his cure for sickle cell. If you’re in generally good health and between the ages of 18-44 years old, you can join the Be The Match Registry for free by visiting https://join.bethematch.org/junior. It only takes a simple cheek swab to join – and you could help save a life of patients battling blood cancer or sickle cell, like Thor! Do it now! Go to https://join.bethematch.org/junior

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