Fil-Ams won’t donate marrow because _________.
On a windy Sunday afternoon AADP was hosting a bone marrow/stem cell registration drive at the parking lot in front of Target in Serramonte Mall, Daly City in 2009. Serramonte Mall has been dubbed “SerraManila” by locals because of the abundance of Filipino-American patrons. During the three hour registration drive in the parking lot, I was able to secure zero potential donors. This was not due to the lack of effort on my part – I was more or less stalking people in hopes of simply educating them about the program. It was very difficult to stop people and inform them the importance of being a bone marrow/stem cell donor. The community event was publicized and geared towards the Filipino-American community yet not one soul wanted to register to be a bone marrow/stem cell donor.
Fast forward to March 2010 in Serramonte Mall. AADP is hosting another bone marrow/stem cell registration drive at the shopping center. The marrow/stem cell registration is a patient-focused drive for a Filipina patient living in the East Bay. After three and a half hours, we registered approximately 450 donors’; the majority of the new registered donors were Filipinos. Here is a video of the drive:
There were many factors that determined the dynamic increase in participation with the second bone marrow/stem cell registration drive in comparison to the first one. One major factor was sharing the story of a Filipina patient who was diagnosed with a life-threatening blood disease. Her struggles were a strong motivator for Filipino-Americans to be part of the marrow registry. Sharing a patient story helps humanize our life-saving mission. Another major factor that played into the success of the second bone marrow/stem cell registration drive was that the patient family was well connected within the Filipino community. The local fire department, police department, media, and local celebrities were there to support our patient. Announcements about the drive and the need for more registered donors were blasted on local radio stations days before the marrow drive.
Unfortunately, Filipino-Americans are very reluctant to join the registry. There challenges includes but are not limited to: religion, family hierarchy, age, and one of the biggest culprits, the fear of pain. I will delve more into the different nuances of why Filipinos are so resistant to participating in the National Bone Marrow Registry. Stay tuned for more.