Why Can't This Black Couple Find a Bone Marrow Donor?

African Americans make up only 7 percent of those in the registry. With an urgent need of their own, Kevin Weston and his wife are doing everything they can to change that. 

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Lateefah Simon and Kevin Weston

Kevin Weston and Lateefah Simon recently renewed their vows at San Francisco's City Hall. But first, they did something with an even greater sense of urgency: They held a rally to encourage people -- in particular, black people -- to become bone marrow donors. Having been diagnosed with leukemia six months ago, 44-year-old Weston is in dire need of a transplant to save his life. 

The outlook of finding a match was grim, KQED reports, in part because African Americans -- who would make the best match -- make up only 7 percent of those in the registry. Now he, a journalist, and Simon, a civil rights activist and MacArthur "genius" fellow, are raising awareness about low minority donor participation and its impact on those who need transplants.

Simon said not only is it important for the couple to find their own match, they are expanding their efforts to help other minorities who are suffering from an aggressive form of cancer.

"We want to end the stigma," Simon said. "There's a lot of misinformation out there. For folks in ethnic communities who do not have access to medical care, it's a simple procedure that can save someone's life."

Weston is a journalist and Simon is a civil-rights leader. Simon said because of their professional work and involvement in minority communities, they have turned their attention to helping anyone in need.

"It's extending our definition of social justice," she said. "Kevin has worked his whole life with young people and talking about issues that people find uncomfortable. It's only fitting we find ourselves newly educated and devoted to this crisis and tragedy."

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner and listen to the interview at KQED.

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