About Why the Heritage Holds the Cure

Let’s face it. There’s a lot of issues in the world that we don’t think about every day, but they’re silently affecting our well-being. It’s not until things come to our door steps that we pay attention. It’s of no fault of our own, of course, because when everything feels like a dumpster fire, then we have to pick and choose our care poison.

In fact, I’ve been an HIV/AIDS advocate for the last 8 years, with my nonprofit organization The Red Pump Project, which educates women and girls of color about HIV.

We gotta have our own backs. Pic by OluJr Photography.

I started that organization, with my friend Karyn, after not hearing much about it at all, but then finding out I knew someone who had 20 cousins who had lost their parents to AIDS-related complications. I was like “NO! I thought we had a handle on it. I didn’t know it was still so prevalent.” Once again, realizing that Black people were losing their lives at higher rates than anyone else gripped my spirit and I wanted to do something about it.

Last week, the world was stunned when rap legend Prodigy of Mobb Deep suddenly passed away. It was days after he performed at a concert, and at the age of 42, no one was expecting his demise. It was reported that Prodigy succumbed to complications from sickle cell, which he has had all his life. 42, y’all. All I could think of was “that’s not even fair.”

Rest in peace, Prodigy.

Sickle cell is one of those diseases that disproportionately affects Black folks, yet we don’t hear enough about it. In fact, blood-related illnesses are the red-headed stepchildren with lice of medicine, because they are relegated to the corner to face the wall and be ignored. We hear more about things like hypertension but not enough about leukemia.

Not enough research is being done on blood disorders, and once again, Black folks gotta show up for our own to address the things that are acutely affecting us.

This is why the National Marrow Donor Program is doing a new campaign that I am excited to be a part of. It’s called “Heritage Holds the Cure” and it wants to raise awareness about the need for African Americans to join the Be the Match donor registry program. For diseases that affect the blood, marrow and cord blood transplants can save someone’s life. And it turns out that it is much more difficult for Black people to find matched donors because of our specific genetic markers. More of us need to be candidates, because we could save some of our skinfolks who are suffering (and surviving) with these illnesses. There aren’t enough African Americans on the donor registry list. This means there are people who are dying from something they could be possibly saved from because they cannot find a match.

Talk about “we all we got.” For real.

The patients that need us don’t just look like our family, they are our family. I lost the man who would be walking me down the aisle to lymphoma 10 years ago and it was painful. It was my first time even knowing what that disease was.

Joining the donor registry involves taking a swab test at home and sending it in. For those who are afraid of needles, you won’t be poked and prodded to be on the registry. Once you do that, your DNA is tested and your info is added to the list, in case you are a match for someone who is in need of a bone marrow transplant. And IF you happen to one day be a match, donation is still voluntary. You still have full control and the final say.

To register, visit the Heritage Holds the Cure website microsite to register to be a donor today and challenge friends to do the same. Our family needs us. All of us.

Edit: The comments on my Facebook post about this piece have me in my feelings in the best way. People are sharing who they’ve lost to blood disorders. Some are sharing how they’ve been saved by a transplant. Others are going to sign up right now for the registry. THIS is why I love LuvvNation with all my being. Not only are we great at shenanigans, but we rise up for the things that matter. Thank you!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the Be The Match campaign, but as always all thoughts, randomness and whatnots belong to me. I keep it 100 at all times.

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  1. Liv
    June 28, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    My church organization just completed a drive to get donors signed up. I don’t think I can donate because of my own medical issues, but I will find out. Thanks Luvvie and Luvnation. We care.

  2. Lorna
    June 28, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    My feelings might be a little hurt. Really wish I’d known about this prior to getting “old” because I just read your article and immediately went to register. Got the following message after I put in my birthdate:

    “We are committed to providing the best possible outcome for patients. Doctors request donors in the 18-44 age group over 95% of the time. If you are between the ages of 45-60, you are welcome to continue with your registration, but will be required to make a $100 payment to cover the cost to join the registry.”

    Since I am close to celebrating the 30th anniversary of my 20th birthday, I will donate money instead.

    Thank you for sharing this information, Luvvie! Lymphoma has killed many of my family members and all us skin-folk need to work together to be stronger, healthier and live longer.
    God bless you!

  3. Gail
    June 30, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    If you are registered with DKMS merica as a marrow donor, do you still have to register with Heritage, or do they have access to that pool of donors?

  4. Krissi
    July 3, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    Thank you so much for speaking about this subject. I suffer from Sickle Cell Anemia and I’m also a Sickle Cell advocate so I know first hand what it’s like to have a disease where the majority of the medical community could really care less about us dying from. I’m 37 years old and my fiancée passed away at age 26 (13 yrs ago) from the very same illness. Thank you so much for bringing this necessity to light to so many people. God bless.

  5. Altonet
    July 5, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Hello to all –
    I am a donor. I donated marrow 7.9.2013, my donation CURED my recipient of leukemia!! Please, please, please, join. I was on the registry 14 years before I was identified as a match. If anyone has questions about the donation process, don’t hesitate to ask me. I’ve been there, did that… and it feels damn good!!!