By RYOKO NAKAMURA
RAFU JAPANESE STAFF WRITER
Chris Ishida, a 19-year-old freshman at Pitzer College in Claremont, has been looking for a bone marrow match since last December.
The Glenview, Il., native was suddenly diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia, which requires a bone marrow transplant. According to the National Marrow Donor Program, SAA is a disease that develops when the bone marrow stops making enough red blood cells, white cells, and platelets for the body. People with SAA are at risk for life-threatening infections or bleeding.
Finding a marrow match is determined by a combination of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing inherited from each parent. Therefore, if a given patient doesn’t find a match among siblings, the next best chance to find a match is among people who share the same racial or ethnic heritage.
Since there were no matches among his family, Ishida, born hapa, has the best chance to find a match from donors who are also half Japanese and half Caucasian.
About 8 million people have registered on the Be the Match Registry; 74 percent of those are Caucasians, 10 percent are Hispanics/Latinos, 7 percent are Asians, 7 percent are African Americans, and only 3 percent have multiple ethnic backgrounds like Ishida.
“We could dramatically impact the survival of many patients in serious need of a bone marrow transplant,” remarked Masuo Ishida, Chris’ father, in reference to the marrow registry. The Ishida family is urging more members of the public to become donors.
To read more of Chris Ishida’s story, visit www.caringbridge.org/visit/chrisishida. For more information about bone marrow transplants and becoming a donor, go to bethematch.org. You can also find more information, especially about Asian donors, at A3Mhope.org.