Kim Kardashian West is using her huge social media platform to do some public good. This week, she’s calling attention to a major public health problem: the urgent need for people to sign up as bone marrow donors.
On Monday, she posted on Facebook about 31-year-old Adam Krief, an LA-based father of three who has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of blood cancer.
As West explains in her post, the cancer, known as primary myelofibrosis, can be treated with a bone marrow transplant. Finding a bone marrow donor could help Krief survive, but unfortunately, he wasn’t able to find a match in the existing registry.
As of Wednesday, more than 40,000 fans liked her Facebook post, and over 2,000 people have shared it. While there’s no way yet to tell if these numbers will translate to new potential donors, there’s no denying that West is using her celebrity to raise awareness about a serious medical issue.
In the news segment below, Krief and his wife, Lia, explain how they started a bone marrow donor drive, not just to find a match for him but to expand the registry for other patients.
For now, Adam is undergoing chemotherapy to “buy” time as he waits to be matched, but in the first ten days that the couple began their search for a donor, they have already managed to register about 3,000 potential bone marrow donors, according to CBS Los Angeles
Why you should consider signing up
There is an urgent need for more bone marrow donors, both for Adam Krief and for the tens of thousands of Americans who will be diagnosed with a condition that requires a transplant. Every year in the U.S., more than 20,000 people are diagnosed with a disease that could be cured with a bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. While about 30 percent of them will find a match within their own families, the rest are relying on willing bone marrow donors to help save their lives.
There are currently 27 million people around the world who are registered to become bone marrow donors, but there is an urgent need of donors from diverse ethnic backgrounds ― specifically, Native American, Asian, Black, Latino, Pacific Islander and mixed-race people ― as patients are more likely to be matched to donors of similar ethnicities. Donors ages 18 to 44 are also especially sought after, as their donations offer the greatest chance of success.
It’s simple to register: Sign up for a kit on bethematch.org, which is run by the National Marrow Donor Program. It contains a cotton swab that should be rubbed on the inside of the mouth and then sent back for testing. You could also search for a local donor drive event, where they’ll handle the shipping for you.
If you are a potential match for a patient, a Be The Match representative will reach out to you to organize more specific testing. You’ll also receive a physical exam to determine whether it’s safe for you to give. About one in 430 people registered with Be The Match will go on to donate either bone marrow or blood stem cells to a patient.
“In just doing that, you are increasing the chances of somebody getting to see their children grow,” Lia told CBS Los Angeles. “And that, for us, is everything.”