The Asian American Donor Program is planning a special drive-thru stem cell registration event in hopes of finding a donor for an area resident.
Those interested in taking part can attend this drive-thru registration on Sunday, March 14 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hughes Business Park, 5492 Pirrone Road, Salida.
Ericka, a mother of three, needs to find a stem cell match, said Asian American Donor Program spokesperson Sally Douglas Arce. A resident of Stanislaus County, Ericka was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) in October of 2020. MDS is a group of diverse bone marrow disorders.
She has completed three rounds of chemotherapy and is set to receive her fourth round this month. Her doctors say that, for a full cure, Ericka needs to find a stem cell match and, then, have a stem cell transplant.
She needs a stem cell donor to extend or save her life. She is Indonesian-Dutch, Filipino, and Portuguese. Unfortunately, her brother is not a match. Due to Ericka’s mixed ethnicity, her search for a donor will be difficult. Most likely Ericka’s matching donor will be someone who is Filipino, Indonesian-Dutch, or someone of a similar mixed ethnic background as her.
“Everyone is encouraged to register,” said Carol Gillespie, executive director of the Asian American Donor Program (AADP, www.aadp.org/), a 30-year-old nonprofit organization in Alameda. “You could be the one to save Ericka’s life. If you are not a match for Ericka, you could be a match for another patient who is searching for a donor.”
Matching is based on your human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue type. Your HLA is part of what makes you ‘you’ – your individual genetic characteristics. So, HLA matches are closely based upon a patient’s ethnicity.
Multiethnic patients only have an 18 percent chance of finding a match. For searching patients who are of European descent, the likelihood of finding a matched adult donor is 77 percent.
“Ericka is dependent on a stranger to step forward and register,” Gillespie said. “People of color and people who are multiethnic are encouraged to register.”
Registering only takes about five minutes. Request a home kit, register online, swab the inside of your cheek, and pop it in the mail. It’s that simple. Postage is pre-paid and you don’t have to leave your home. Your registration is paid for by a grant.
Join the registry by going to www.aadp.org/homekit
“Before cancer, I was passionate about fitness, writing, and being active with my children,” Ericka said. “Now, I spend my spare time making jewelry, blogging, and watching my daughters play softball.”
For 15 years, she was a power lifter. She was a power lifter coach for five years. Ericka set several national records, as well. Four years ago, she held a world record for bench pressing.
In 2017, Ericka lifted and set a world record at the United States Powerlifting Association (USPA). She set a world record that was an all-time record when she competed at The Arnold Classic in XPC four years ago.
She graduated from Amador Valley High in Pleasanton in 1995.
AADP staff educates and encourages people of ethnically diverse backgrounds and those who are multiethnic to be committed and join the Registry, potentially saving a life. AADP staff is dedicated to increasing the availability of potential stem cell donors for patients with life threatening diseases curable by a blood stem cell or marrow transplant. AADP is an official recruitment center for Be The Match.
“For thousands of severely ill blood cancer patients, there is a cure,” noted Gillespie. “You could be the cure. Those whose marrow/stem cells are not a match for a patient in need now may be a match for someone else down the road, anywhere in the world. I encourage everyone who is able to commit to registering. It is simple to register – just complete an online questionnaire and swab the inside of your cheek.”
At any given time, 12,000 people are looking for a matching stem cell donor to help save their life. Patients are from all walks of life and from numerous racial and ethnic groups.
How You Can Commit to Help:
• You can complete the online registration at: www.aadp.org/homekit/
• You must be 18 to 44 years old and meet general health requirements
• Complete the online consent form and a swab kit will be mailed to you
• Be committed. Be ready to donate to any patient in need when you are informed that you are a match.