Last year, Kevin Weston was riding high. He had just won a journalism fellowship at Stanford, and was raising two daughters with his partner Lateefah Simon, a civil rights activist and MacArthur Genius fellow. Then doctors told him he had leukemia, and needed to find a bone marrow donor by the end of the month. But Kevin is African-American — and African-Americans comprise only 7 percent of registered donors. Kevin and Lateefah join us to share their story. We’ll also discuss the low rate of minority donor participation and the long road to a successful transplant.

Kevin Weston, new media journalist and Knight journalism fellow at Stanford University who is seeking a match for a bone marrow transplant
Lateefah Simon, wife of Kevin Weston, local civil rights activist and winner of a MacArthur "Genius" grant
Jonathan Leong, founder of the Asian American Donor Program
Manali Patel, postdoctoral fellow in hematology/oncology at the Stanford School of Medicine and researcher at the Clinical Excellence Research Center, which focuses on innovations in cancer care

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    When my husband died over three dozen people benefited from his bone,organ,skin etc donation and our family members are all on donor lists for donating bone marrow,and even a kidney while still alive. The test is so simple, and I encourage everyone to get on a bone marrow donation list. Give the gift of life!

  • Kate

    I planned to register for a local bone marrow drive but when I found out that I would have to pay the fee (I think it was about 100.00) I declined. I would be happy to donate if I was a match but felt that I should not have to pay to find out if I was a match.

  • Deana Mundell

    Hi Kate – I think the $100 is how much it costs to add a new member. I think that donors might be called upon to donate but I don’t think there is an actual fee.

    I’ll be going to this weekend’s drive. Hope I can help someone.

  • molly

    it looks like the fee is only if you are between 45 and 60 years of age since you are less likely to be useful as a donor.

  • Kate

    well I fall in that range (52). I just feel if you are willing to donate you should not have to pay

    • Selostaja

      I registered at about the same age and wasn’t asked to pay anything. It was part of a donor drive.

  • Why not use 23andMe to match for bone marrow?

  • Dee

    Hello, can a person with Hepatitis A history donate? Thanks

    • Hi Dee, My name is Carol Gillespie and I am the Executive Director for Asian American Donor Program. We can accept people with a history of HepA if it was 6 months or greater ago and you have fully recovered. (whether or not required immune globulin). Thank you for the question

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    The site only allows you to register to donate if you are between 18-40 SAD!!!!!

    • Hi Beth, actually, you can register if your are 18 to 44. Registry
      data shows that transplant doctors request donors in this age range more than
      90 percent of the time. Younger donors are best for patients because they
      provide the greatest chance for transplant success.

  • Gladys Zarazua

    I register 9 years ago and have since moved, do I need to update my information. If so how do I go about doing so.


  • kobeitiks

    In addition to registering as a marrow donor, please
    consider donating platelets. Blood banks are always looking for platelet donors and it’s a great way to do something to help people undergoing cancer treatment. It takes a little longer than donating blood, but is very important.When my husband went through a bone marrow transplant years ago, I donated platelets to the general fund because it made me feel like I was helping someone – even if it did not directly affect him.

  • Selostaja

    Maybe if people saw registration as a way of enlarging a pool of possible donors as well as recipients. If more people understood they could benefit from a communal database of genetic markers, they may see it as a sort of insurance that would improve their own chances in case they fell ill. Appeal to families and have members become recruiters to extended relatives. Sometimes self interest can lead to a benefit for others.


    The $100 is a recommended donation, it is not required to test for the registry.

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