The dearth of Hispanic bone marrow donors has a Palm Beach Gardens man with a rare blood cancer in the unenviable position of begging for someone who can save his life.
Manny Valdes says if willing Hispanics donors could just get their mouths swabbed, then he can possibly find a bone marrow match. The test is free for the potential donor.
The 42-year-old husband and father of two was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in February. It is a rare form of blood and bone marrow cancer.
Currently, in the second round of chemotherapy, Valdes is in need of a bone marrow transplant, but so far no match has been found for him yet. Valdes works as director Florida IT Operations at Minto Communities.
The Gift of Life Marrow Registry, a national non-profit organization based in Boca Raton, operates a public registry dedicated to curing blood cancer through marrow and stem cell donation. They are appealing nationwide to increase Hispanic representation in the donor pool.
The Palm Beach Post reported in April 2015 how minorities fighting leukemia and other cancers have an additional hurdle in finding an outside donor to save their lives. Nicole Rivera, a young Jupiter mother, spoke to The Post about the dilemma Hispanics have in finding suitable donors for a bone marrow transplants.
The mother of two ended up losing her battle with cancer after having to wait to find a donor for her second transplant.
And now Valdes is playing the same waiting game.
Gift of Life says bone marrow is inherited like eye or hair color which makes ethnic and racial diversity crucial to finding donor matches for a greater number of patients in need of marrow transplants.
Because of the under-representation, 55 percent of Hispanic cancer patients and 75 percent of multi-racial patients are never matched with donors who can save their lives.
All it takes to become a bone marrow donor is a simple check swab. Once the tissue is typed, volunteers will then be entered into a registry for a patient currently or in the future.
People can request their FREE swab kit to become a potential donor at https://www.giftoflife.org/register.
There is also a Facebook page for Valdes: https://www.facebook.com/MANNYVSTRONG/