On February 24, in Nigeria, the second national bone marrow registry in Africa was released, in part due to the efforts of Seun Adebiyi, a Nigerian-born graduate of Yale Law School. As a carrier of stem cell leukemia and lymphoblastic lymphoma, both of which are lethal blood cancers, Adebiyi struggled to find a bone marrow donor to match his blood type. Verging on desperation, Adebiyi finally received the stem cell match he needed from the donated umbilical cord blood of a Nigerian baby. A sharp realization of the scarcity of minority blood donors inspired him to make a change.
Adebiyi has now invested much of his personal money and time in the building and opening of the Nigerian national bone marrow registry. He is also raising money to open a cord-blood bank. Adebiyi says he will not gain financially from this; rather, he is doing it all for charity, hoping that other lives will be saved as his was.
Though over 70 percent of whites find perfect, life-saving donor matches, only 17 percent of Africans and members of the diaspora are matched. While the genetic diversity exceeds that of whites, Africans and the diaspora are far less likely to register as donors. In fact, despite the simplicity of becoming a donor, only eight percent of registered donors in the United States are black. Each year, this results in the death of about 4,000 black Americans affected with blood cancers, and exponentially more worldwide. The new bone marrow registry and future cord-blood blank in Nigeria will benefit the millions of Nigerians that have blood cancers.
Read the article about Seun Adebiyi at the New York Times.