[Above: An image of marrow donation registry advocate Janet Liang, a gif demonstrating how easy it is to donate stem cells, an image of Janet holding the stem cells from her donor, the logo of the 170 in 7 blog campaign, and an image of two year old leukemia patient Jeremy Kong, who still needs a lifesaving donor match.]

Probably one of the hardest article’s I’ve ever written for–and my apologies for being off topic!  

Janet was an amazing person and a group of Asian American bloggers have rallied together this week to honor her memory through 170 in 7: A Bone Marrow Cyberdrive in Memory of Janet Liang

Janet learned that she had cancer while undergoing a series of routine physicals at UCLA during her senior year. The physical exams were to help her prepare to study abroad in Paris. Instead, Janet found herself enduring brutal chemotherapy regimens while she spearheaded an international search to increase the stem cell and marrow donor registry. Told that the odds of finding a match for a Chinese American patient were 1 in 20,000, Janet and her friends set the goal of registering over 20,000 new potential donors to the Be the Match registry. After over three hundred drives, they surpassed the 20,000 registrant goal. Due to these amazing efforts, Janet and an astounding additional 18 patients were able to find their lifesaving matches.

By this point, you’ve realized that unlike the other articles on, this article is not about how people of color are underrepresented in entertainment media. This article is about my friend and fellow UCLA alumna Janet Liang,one of the bravest and most inspirational women that I have ever known. While we have been advocating for increased representation in film, television, comics, and other entertainment mediums, Janet and other patients in need of a stem cell or marrow transplant have been advocating for increased representation in national and international registries. Her efforts touched thousands of people and even brought greater attention to this issue to the White House.

This article is a reminder that Asian Americans and other people of color as a whole are terribly underrepresented–not only in entertainment media, but also in other vital areas of American society–in this case, a life-saving registry that enables people from all around the country the opportunity to save a life.

All it takes to join the registry is a simple cheek swab. It’s so simple, you can even do it from home and pop it in the mail. The odds of being selected and donating are about 1 in 540. The donation process is often so similar to donating blood platelets, that people have participated in Ask Me Anything sessions on while sitting in the hospital room, waiting for their cells to finish downloading into a lifesaving bag for a patient in need.

Most (but not all) donors share the same race and ethnicity as the transplant recipient. Because people of color are underrepresented in national registries, this means that if you are a patient who is white, and you have leukemia–or any of the other medical conditions that necessitate a stem cell or marrow transplant–your odds of finding a donor match are 93%. In contrast, black patients have a 66% chance of finding a match, Latinos have a 72% chance, Asian Americans have a 73% chance, and American Indians have a 82% chance. These are huge disparities. According to the Mavin Foundation, approximately only 25% of those listed in the donor registry of the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) are racial “minorities”, and people of mixed race represent only 2% of that.

You can read the full article at

Please, if you are eligible, consider joining the registry.  (And tweet to #170in7 to let us know if you are doing so as part of the blogathon!)

Mhiya, as someone with some experience in leukaemia research and treatment i’d like to ask people to have a little think about potentially signing up to your country’s bone marrow registry. if you’re thinking of things like ‘my sister’s keeper’ then please don’t, most bone marrow donations are now done through a series of injections and then a process like donating platelets.

you can donate from age 16. it’s particularly important for POC to sign up to the registry as we don’t have a lot of POC donors, leading it difficult for POC to find a match! your donations can be used anywhere around the world. 2/3 of people who need bone marrow don’t have a match within their families and so need to use unrelated donors found through registries.

joining the registry is as simple as spitting into a pot so they can test your cheek cells to find your specific profile.

list of organisations

UK - Anthony Nolan

Ireland - IUBMR

USA - Be The Match

Canada - OneMatch

Australia - ABMDR

New Zealand - NZBMDR

France - Don De Moelle Osseuse

Germany - DKMS

Most other countries have details available here! 

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a bone marrow donor to help one of the 6000 Americans seeking a marrow match to treat their Leukemia, Anemia or other life threatening blood disorders did you know that 70% of the time donors are now asked to give stem cells using a method called PBSC (Peripheral Blood Stem Cell) collection? It’s similar to how plasma is donated. The other 30% are asked to donate marrow from the back of their hip bones under general anesthesia because children in particular experience a higher transplant success rate when receiving marrow instead of PBSC.

To learn more visit Be The Match (aka the National Marrow Donor Program) 

Just Matched! (No, Not for Residency)

A couple years ago several of my friends and I (at a Diwali celebration held by my undergrad university of all places) signed up for the Be the Match program and had our cheeks swabbed and information taken down. I’d never heard much else from them, other than a yearly request to renew my commitment to being a potential bone marrow donor and to update them if my health status changed. I hadn’t honestly expected to be contacted, as no one I know has ever been a match, but I figured it was still something worth doing anyway just in case some long lost half-step-neighbor-in-law out there needed a transplant. At the very least, they could use my swab for their ongoing HLA study (when you sign up, you have the option to allow your DNA sample to be used for research as well). 

Yesterday I fired up Gmail and was pleasantly surprised to have received an email from Be the Match saying I was a preliminary bone marrow match for a patient! I’ve made it through their 2nd step of screening (basically another round of health questionnaires after initially matching) and if the patient and their doctor decide that a transplant is their best course of treatment, within the next 6-8 weeks I’ll receive another email/phone call from Be the Match and have to go have some blood work done and I imagine some sort of physical. I’ve heard bone marrow donation is painful and has some risks associated (so I’m mildly terrified), but I figure a week or two of being sore will be worth it if I’m able to potentially save someone’s life (and all before receiving my MD too haha)! Have any of you guys donated before? Do you have any tips/sage words of advice?

So, to all those healthy, young whippersnappers like myself out there who follow this blog, please please please consider signing up for Be the Match! Here’s a link to their website if you’d like to know more:



From a student to another student (especially if you’re from UCLA or UCI), find out if you’re a match for marrow donation for this woman. And even if you aren’t a match, continue to save lives, please!

Links can be found on the video description.


Do a Good Thing For Free

Did you know that if you are over age 18 and under age 45 you can register for the US bone marrow donor registry for free?  They mail you the packet, you swab your cheek and send it back with their prepaid postage, et voila!

This is a good thing to do whoever you are, but is especially helpful if you belong to an ethnic group which is uncommon in the US, because the immune markers involved in matching donors to recipients tend to cluster in people groups.  If you’re of mixed heritage then that’s even more true.

Most people are never asked to donate, but having your information out there means that if someone really needs a donor with your particular genetic markers they will be able to find you.  And the process of donating bone marrow is not much worse than donating blood, and yet can make such a huge difference to someone dealing with leukemia or similar.

My mother’s friend donated bone marrow a while ago. The recipent was a 16-year old boy from the USA who had leukemia. The donation was his last chance and with the help of the donated marrow he survived.

The rules of the foundation say that the first 2 years after the donation, the name of either the donor and the recipent have to be secret. But my mother’s friend wanted to send a small package for Christmas including lots of German chocolate and marzipan and a letter, telling she’s thankful that she could save a young man’s life and that she’s glad she could help. So she did. And this is the boy’s answer.

“I never wrote before because I was not sure that you would want to hear from me. I was very excited when I received that letter and I loved all the chocolate; especially the coffee-flavoured chocolate.
I could sit here and say thank you over and over, but it could never make up what you have done for me. I feel as if I have my life back again. It’s hard to believe a stranger would do that for someone they don’t know at all. Everything is going about as well as it could, I’m even back to school and playing my favorite sport.
I can read some German, but not write very well. I would love to read it if you wrote a portion or just a note in the next letter.
Wondering if there is anything from the United States you would like to eat. Our chocolate is not as nearly as good.

From: The Patient.”

So I got my bone marrow donor test kit from the National Marrow Donor Program in the mail the other day, and I’m going to be taking samples and sending it in today. It’s a pretty simple process–swab the inside of my cheek with four outsized Q-Tips, label them, and send ‘em in. 

Bone marrow transplants are used to treat a variety of debilitating and even life-threatening conditions, including several types of leukemia and lymphoma, diseases affecting bone marrow and red blood cells, and inherited metabolic and immune system disorders. DNA is used to help find good matches between donors and recipients. 

As much as I want to help, I am not the sort of donor who’s most in demand. For one thing, I’m a little on the old-ish side; the best age for donors is 18-44, and I’m 35. More importantly, I’m white, and there’s a lack of minority donors. While I could potentially be a donor for a minority recipient, it’s much more likely that someone of the same race/ethnicity would be a match.

So if you’re 18 or older, and you want to potentially help save someone’s life, here’s where you can join up! (And pass it on, too, so others can join as well!)

like, honestly, let’s think about this.

taking bone marrow can be done humanely and without lasting effects, can it not?

so WHY did the people of Mt. Weather not just ask the Arkers if, “hey, we’d like to step foot outside this mountain, mind donating some marrow?”

and wow, maybe they would have said yes? 

maybe, if the Mountain Men had decided anaesthetic was a good idea, nONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED 


Rest in peace Fabian, who the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met in 2011 and to whom the Duchess of Cambridge sent a personalized letter:

Dear Fabian,

I very much enjoyed meeting you at The Royal Marsden hospital last month. Despite the enormously demanding course of treatment you are undergoing, I was so touched by your strength of character, and delighted to hear the news that one of your big sisters will be able to donate bone marrow to you later this year. I will keep my fingers crossed that your health goes from strength to strength over the months ahead.

This must be a troubling time for you, your parents and your sisters, but I know I left The Royal Marsden assured by how incredibly talented, kind and clever the team at the hospital are. Combined with your belief and positive energy, you couldn’t be in better hands.

Keep up the good work with the blog and in the meantime I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.


‘I want Kate to know that it wasn’t just a letter, it was a message that meant so much. It has stayed with him and it is staying with him now that he is departed. It is the only one in the world, it has that uniqueness – it is very personal and special. It was synonymous with what Fabian went through, he would not have got it otherwise. It would be amazing to think that Kate and William knew that the letter she wrote three years ago is now sitting next to his body at rest.’ - Fabian’s dad, Mr. Bates

Here’s the lowdown

Bodily autonomy means that you get to do what you want with your body.

This does not mean that you get to hurt others with your body. That is assault.

It means that your body is yours to control and you get to decide what it is used for and who it is used by. It means that you get to decide if others get to use your blood. It means that you get to decide if your organs are donated, both in life and even after death in many places. It means that you get to decide if you want to donate bone marrow, even if failing to donate it will mean that another dies. It means that routine infant circumcision is wrong because the patient cannot consent to it. It means that pregnant people get to decide if a fetus is allowed to gestate inside of them.

The day anti-choicers finally teach themselves what bodily autonomy means will be a great day for all, because then they’ll actually make their choice to be anti-choice with full knowledge of how they’re against basic human rights that everyone else in every other situation has.

If you’re going to be an awful person, at least be an awful person who is actually informed.


//I don’t have a working scanner, so I had to take pictures using my phone. But can we just…look at this and realize a few things?

1) Barney genuinely cares about his little brother and tries to look after him as best he can. Even teaches him how to defend himself.

2 a) Clint’s ears are wrapped in those early pages. Which leads me to believe that this is shortly after he loses his hearing as a kid.

2 b) Clint is completely silent through this whole flashback scene, except for that last panel’s “Good.” after learning their parents died.

3) Barney Futzing Barton slept in the same bed as his little brother, a protective hand resting on him, after teaching him how to defend himself!

They may have had their differences in the past, but Barney futzing loves Clint, and looks out for him as best he can, even if it doesn’t seem like it. He could have easily killed Clint in Blindspot, or not donated bone marrow to save Clint’s sight, but he did.

Growing up in the circus, Barney kept trying to get Clint to make something of himself. To pick up a book for a change and get a GED. To join the Army with him and get the hell out of the circus. But Clint, the stubborn jackass, is too blinded by the fact the circus is the closest thing to a family they’d ever known that he refuses (okay, yes, he does change his mind and go chasing after Barney but misses the bus by like a second and Barney never saw him and it drove off without him. And I openly weep while reading that scene every time).

So what I’m really trying to say here is, that Barney Barton is actually a damn great big brother, and if you wanna fight me about it, bring it. I will fight to the death defending him.

Your blood type is specific to your body. Matching the right type for you could save your life if you need surgery or a transfusion. Here’s our third letter on precision medicine written by Megan Mitchell from Methuen, Massachusetts:

Dear Mr. President,

I want to say thank you for launching the Precision Medicine Initiative. When I was in fifth grade one of my best friends passed away because of leukemia. They tried the bone marrow transplant, but the doctors were not able to save her. Then in 2013, with the help of precision medicine, I was able to donate bone marrow to someone using a new method of bone marrow collection which more accurately collected my stem cells and white cells, was a less invasive procedure, and has proven to be a more effective treatment.

Over a year later the recipient is nearing the end of her treatment and we are hopeful that she will remain in remission. I got to pay my respects to an old friend and make a new friend thanks to the efforts in precision medicine and overall advances in cancer research.

But I want to become more proactive in helping advance research and development issues and I believe my line of work is well suited to help. I currently work as a conference producer for […] and we are well known for creating industry-leading events for pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies. I believe that these educational conferences present a unique opportunity to not only propel research and discovery efforts across the entire medical research field, but they create a forum to overcome roadblocks that are stunting the industry from potential growth.

Over the past year I’ve been able to create platforms for setting industry standards where regulatory guidance is unclear and there had be no previous industry consensus, I’ve created think tanks to workshop with FDA leaders on how to better work with the FDA to conduct and I now have my sights on utilizing my job to create a series of conferences to overcome key challenges and propel discovery within the field of precision medicine. I am developing my 2015 conference portfolio specifically around the key issues in your initiative with a focus on Health IT, Precision Medicine, Cancer Immunotherapies, and a broad Oncology Development and Discovery conference.

This is a platform to share the research and developments we need to move your initiative forward over the next couple of years and would love the opportunity to work with your staff to make sure these conferences not only provide an education experience to improve the public health, but they foster the innovations and collaborations needed to propel the next era of precision medicine.

Best, Megan