African Americans desperate for bone marrow donors

Dedicated teacher and family campaign for African Americans to register as donors


Olivia Saddler has been searching for a donor for 9 months


Minneapolis, MN ( — Olivia Saddler is one of thousands of African Americans fighting diseases like sickle cell anemia, leukemia and lymphoma. These patients face a staggering challenge. They need donors, and because the tissue types used for matching patients with donors are inherited, they are most likely to find a match within their own racial or ethnic heritage. This is particularly true for African Americans, as some African American tissue types are rarely found in donors from other ethnic backgrounds and may be unusual, even among other African Americans. Unfortunately, donor matches are found within families only 25 to 30 percent of the time. Of the 9 million people in our country registered as bone marrow donors, fewer than 10 percent are African Americans. With the odds stacked against them, the majority of African American patients can’t find donors.

Olivia Saddler has been searching for a donor for 9 months now, while undergoing treatment for acute myeloid leukemia. Extensive screening of family members has failed to identify a match. National donor base searches have been unsuccessful. We understand that we are only one among thousands of African American families desperately searching to find a donor to save the life of a beloved family member.

“My mother devoted her professional life to mentoring and teaching first and second grade students in the Detroit public school system. She understood that our best hope for the future lay in her commitment to encourage the young minds under her care,” said Laurie Crutchfield, a healthcare practice administrator. “Today, my mother’s best hope depends upon the African American community’s commitment to step forward and register as donors. With your help, we can save countless lives by encouraging more African Americans to register as donors,” said Crutchfield. “My mother’s life reflected her faith in the promise of an educated community. We are encouraging our African American community to respond by contacting the National Marrow Donor Program (, or to call them at 800-627-7692.”

There are several bone marrow donor registries in the United States, the largest of which is the nonprofit National Marrow Donor Program (, listing more than 6 million donors. These organizations are dedicated to creating an opportunity for all patients to receive the bone marrow transplant they need, when they need it. Seventy percent of people, like Olivia, do not have a donor in their family and depend on registries to find a match to save their life. Donation has never been easier. Advances in bone marrow collection have made actual bone marrow collection similar to giving a blood transfusion.