What began as a husband’s effort to save his wife has evolved into a vital network of volunteers and donors who lend their efforts to delete blood cancer. The DKMS/Delete Blood Cancer family was originally founded in Germany in 1991 but created its US branch in 2004. Since its inception, the US branch has registered over 600,000 potential donors and has administered over 2,000 transplants.
Located in downtown Manhattan, the US Delete Blood Cancer headquarters is on a mission to create an immense network of blood stem cell and bone marrow donors. Having more donors gives blood cancer victims more resources for transplants and will allow the process of finding a donor to be faster.
Blood cancer is a very prevalent threat, being the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the US. Many blood cancer victims require bone marrow transplants but historically only half of that population will be able to get one. Patients and candidates can have thousands of different HLA (tissue type) combinations but need at least eight (ideally 10) in common to be a match for potential transplant. Screening more and more potential donors by way of swabbing the inside of their cheeks to test their HLA type can increase the chance of patients being able to find a suitable donor.
Since the organization’s goal involves getting a large, more diverse group of potential candidates to be screened, raising awareness for the disease and the cause are very important. Those who are looking to get involved in the cause can not only volunteer, they can also host a registration drive or even host a “swab party” where guests can be swabbed as potential donors using kits and resources that can be found on the Delete Blood Cancer website.
The organization also hosts several events and promotions throughout the year to help raise awareness. Consistent with their dynamic branding (even the name “Delete Blood Cancer” makes readers want to know more), their events are not only en vogue but are also slightly provocative to draw further attention to their messages and intent. Their annual “Blood Ball,” hosted to benefit the organization, is an upscale, costumed bash that is filled with burlesque stylings. The have also hosted galas and events that have attracted high profile celebrities like Vera Wang and Jessie J. Recently, they also hosted and small event to raise awareness at the Sephora on 150 Broadway. After participants shared the selfies with the hashtag #WBCD and tagged Sephora, Manicube and DeleteBloodCancer, they were treated to a free manicure from Manicube.
Delete Blood Cancer will have future events to spread the word about becoming a donor, including the notable Blood Ball this October. Those who are interested becoming a donor can visit their website to learn more.
-by Johanna Silver