KC Hernandez, 22 years old, graduated with her bachelor’s degree in nursing science from the UCI Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing in 2022. Since her freshman year, she knew she wanted to be a pediatric nurse. It was while completing her five-week pediatric rotation at the CHOC Neonatal Intensive Care Unit during her fourth year that she “completely fell in love with neonatal nursing,” she says. “I decided that speciality was where I hoped to work in the future.
Just weeks after starting her nursing career at the UCI Health NICU, KC was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Her doctors have recommended a stem cell transplant, also known as a bone marrow transplant, as a cure, but no one in her family is a match.
Her doctors are now searching the Be The Match Registry for an unrelated donor. Join the Be The Match registry today to find out if that could be you. Text TEAMKC to 61474. The cure for blood cancer exists, and it could actually be you!
Be The Match is a non-profit organization that helps patients diagnosed with blood cancer, such as leukemia and lymphoma, and other blood diseases, find a potential blood stem cell or marrow donor to save their lives. The first step to being someone’s cure is to join the Be The Match Registry®. You can join if you are between the ages of 18-40, committed to donating to any patient in need, and meet the health guidelines. Visit bethematch.org for more information.
Once you sign up, you will be mailed an oral swab kit to be completed and sent back to Be The Match for processing. If you are a patient’s match, the stem cell donation process is very simple. 85% of donations consist of a peripheral blood draw similar to that of a red blood cell or platelet donation. The other 15% of donations come directly from the pelvic bone while you are under sedation. Both procedures are outpatient, and donors are able to walk out of the hospital the same day. A few hours of your time can give a lifetime to a patient in need. Be The Match will also cover all expenses for the procedure for you and a companion, including travel, food, hotel costs, and more.
Being a match for a patient is dependent on similar HLA genetic typing, so patients are more likely to match with someone who is of similar genetic background. However, the current Be The Match registry is disproportionately made up of Caucasian donors. Nearly 80% of the registry is Caucasian, while the other 20% consists of all other ethnicities combined. This has made it more difficult for KC to find a match, as she is half Filipino and half Mexican. Blood cancer does not discriminate and can happen to anyone of any age and any race, so it is important that the registry reflects ethnic diversity and closes this disparity as more people are encouraged to sign up.
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