Dr. L. Dawn Christian will be opening her office on Saturday for residents to participate in a bone marrow drive for minority patients in need.
On Saturday, May 5, residents can help make a difference, and it will just take a few minutes of your time.
The Icla da Silva Foundation needs your help to find bone marrow matches. The procedure is simple. All you have to do is show up at the office of dentist L. Dawn Christian on Valley Street in South Orange. Dr. Christian will take a swab from the inside of your cheek which will provide the foundation with enough information to know whether or not you are a match for someone in need of a transplant.
In 1992, the Icla da Silva Foundation was created in memory of a thirteen- year-old Brazilian girl with the same name. She battled with leukemia and was in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant. After three years and no suitable matches found, she ultimately succumbed to the disease.
Since then, the foundation has become the largest recruitment center for the Be The Match Registry in the United States alone. Over 70 percent of patients with either leukemia or other life-threatening diseases need a bone marrow transplant in order to live. Every year, more than 185,000 people have participated in over 2,200 marrow drives that are held across the United States and they have successfully recruited over 39,000 potential bone marrow donors. The Icla da Silva Foundation focuses mainly on mixed and minority races since most registered donors are Caucasian which is why Dr. Dawn Christian is lending her office this Saturday for the cause.
Dr. Christian and her family have had to deal with the pain of severe illness as her first born suffered from biliary atresia, which is a disease of the liver. At seven months, her daughter had to undergo a liver transplant which was successful. At age 13, her daughter was cleared to live a “normal” life.
“We’ve been extremely lucky,” Dr. Christian says. Her daughter is now the captain of her college track team and a part of the honor society. When a patient informed Dr. Christian of the Icla da Silva Foundation, she was interested right away.
“I want to help,” she said.
She felt that her office was ideal because of the location. South Orange is known for being racially diverse and since the foundation mainly concentrates on the minority races, why not have the local dentist retrieve swab samples of possible donors. Saturday will be the first time her office will participate as a donor site but don’t think it will be the last.
“I got involved to educate,” she says. “Every now and then on tv, you hear about a kid who died because they did not know more,” says Dr. Christian.
Which is why at her office, Dr. Christian is doing her part in making sure every patient is aware of this Saturday by passing out flyers and word of mouth. The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 71 Valley Street suite 101 in South Orange.
We know Cinco de Mayo is a good excuse for a party, but let’s not forget about those in need.