When Sameer first called this morning, I actually sent the call to voicemail (I was still in bed!). Then he called right back, and I figured it’s Sameer, of course I should answer — and thirty seconds later I was jumping up and down. THANK YOU TO EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU WHO REGISTERED, GOT FRIENDS TO REGISTER, FORWARDED EMAILS, ATTENDED PARTIES AND OTHERWISE DROVE REGISTRATIONS!! The note below appears on Sameer’s blog at helpsameer.org. As I said for Vinay, it’s not over, but this is HUGE!
When my best friend, Robert, first approached me with the idea of ‘going public’ to mobilize South Asians from around the country to register as bone marrow donors, I was quite hesitant, particularly as an entrepreneur running a business at a crucial inflection point. But Robert persisted and put my worries to rest, more or less saying, “Just let us use your name and we’ll take care of the rest.”
Whenever I’ve allowed my crazy friend - also my first business partner - to act on his incredible instincts, something fantastic has happened. But this time, the results have been outside the realm of all reasonable possibilities or expectations.
Ladies and gentlemen, I was informed today that, through a miracle of God, a 10 out of 10 match has been found for me!!
Let that sink in for a second…this is truly a miracle that came through literally at the last minute. If this match had been found even next week, it’s not clear that it would have been in time given that I need some sort of transplant within 4 weeks. This is a case of God simply picking up a boon and dropping it in our laps…how else can one explain such unbelievable fortune??
This match appears to have come from the 400+ bone marrow registration drives that Teams Vinay and Sameer have put forth, registering nearly 24,000 donors to-date. Priti Radhakrishnan has been the national coordinator and driving force behind the Team Vinay drives, which kicked off several weeks before ours, and Robert mobilized many of my friends to join them and begin organizing drives nationally. Literally hundreds and hundreds of volunteers have been working tirelessly during the past two months to register tens of thousands of South Asians. The result? An increase of South Asian representation in the national bone marrow registry by 20%.
Knowing that our friends and volunteers have leveraged my situation to do something so valuable for the next batch of patients has been very satisfying for me. Recently I was also informed that two other patients have found matches through our drives, which has been even more thrilling. But, as I’ve stated publicly many times, me finding a match through this process was going to be close to impossible.
First, let’s look at the numbers: 1 out of 20,000 South Asians finds a match. If those odds weren’t tough enough, my search team at the Hutch found that I have an unusual gene on my father’s side of the family, which would prove to be extremely difficult to match. (In fact, we went the extra mile to type all of my cousins on that side of the family, and the closest we got was a 2/6 match.) To boot, it would take 4-6 weeks for any new registrant from a drive to show up in the national database, and I would need many more than 20,000 new registrants to have a statistical chance at a match. Bottom line: finding a match through this process in the time required would be nearly impossible.
Yet many hundreds of hands and hearts around the nation united behind this cause. You volunteers who have been tirelessly giving up your weekends and evenings to conduct drives have delivered a miracle from God to me – not only a match but a 10 out of 10 match, Pure perfection in the face of impossibility. You all have given me a new lease on life and for that I don’t have adequate words to thank you…
What I will say, though, is that our work is only half finished. We had set out a national goal of registering 50,000 donors, and we’re halfway there now. There are at least 3 other South Asian patients at this very moment who still do not have matches. They are surely as anxious as our friends and family have been, so we cannot rest till our work is complete.
Please keep pushing on all fronts and encouraging people to register. Please continue organizing drives – especially corporate drives and college campus drives. (I know there are a number of upcoming drives being scheduled around the country, and we will update the website soon to reflect these.)
As for me, I’m extremely grateful to have someone who appears to be a very dedicated donor. I don’t know anything about him but that he responded immediately when called upon. I am sure that he is committed and want to say THANK YOU to him for the new life that he is about to give me. I am simply overwhelmed by the day’s turn of events and thank you all for the prayers and wonderful kindness that have sustained me to this point in my journey.
With love and thanks to all of you,