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Saturday, March 10, 2012

I was on live television on the John Wants Answers show

Two nights ago I was the guest on a live public access tv show called John Wants Answers.

John, the host, describes the show as a "courtroom drama" (it isn't). He is the enthusiastic "prosecutor" of the show, I was his "expert witness" and he calls on the audience to be the jury and to "acquit or convict" the topics. Confused? It's ok, it makes no sense.

He even does a fake station break in the middle of the program where he tell the audience he's cutting away and will be right back but he never really leaves.

Nonetheless, I was happy to be a guest expert witness to answer his questions about the bone marrow donor registry. Though I'd been to the live tapings of the show many times, it was definitely a different experience sitting in the hot seat.

I do wish I had been more clear that a "bone marrow" donor drive and a "stem cell" drive are often (but not always) synonymous. That people will use the words bone marrow and stem cell interchangeably. Probably 80% of the time you see the words bone marrow the drive will actually be a stem cell drive for a patient that needs a PBSC donation, not marrow taken from the bone. (More on that in the video.)

John had questions for me that included:

What is bone marrow?
Who needs a transplant?
Is donating bone marrow painful?
Does ethnicity matter?
How are transplants given?
Why should people not wait to join the registry?

Deer in the headlights. I was nervous at first but everything turned out ok in the end.

Things went pretty well, well, except for that nobody told me if I was supposed to look at John the entire time or if I was supposed to look at the camera. And there was the time I forgot a word, and the two times he interrupted me as I was answering questions because the floor director was trying to communicate with him non-verbally and he couldn't do both at the same time, listen to me and watch the floor director. So he stopped listening to me. As I was talking to him. On live tv. Classic.

Extra special were our two volunteers, Sudeep and Brian who, during the taping of the program, filled out the registration forms in their home test kits then swabbed their cheeks live on air to join the registry! Thank you both so much for participating and showing everyone how easy and pain free the registration process is.

The funniest part is at the end of the show when we did the show's signature freeze-frame high five. It's pretty hilarious.

A special thanks to John, the John Wants Answers crew, the AADP for sending me the test kits, and to Brian and Sudeep our registration volunteers and to Erin who was in the studio audience and also took a home test kit so that she could join the registry too. And to Lisa for the photos included in this post.

There are thousands of people worldwide who won't survive without a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. The good news is every time a new person joins the registry, they increase the odds of patients being able to quickly find a life saving match in their moment of need.

Here are links to the websites mentioned on the program:

Asian American Donor Program
The AADP is an Asian and ethnic minority focused recruitment group based in Alameda, CA that assists patients nationwide.

Be The Match
Is the National Marrow Donor Program. They are also part of the international cooperative registry listed below. CLICK HERE to locate a local donor drive by zip code or to order a home test kit CLICK HERE and it will be mailed directly to you.

Helping Tami
This is the website I made for my cousin following her diagnosis of a blood cancer called Myelodysplasia (MDS) to help raise awareness about the need for more Asian Americans to join the registry as we, as an ethnic group, are severely under represented in the registry database.

Marrow Drives
This is the site I built after my cousin Tami received her transplant. It shows other patients and their families and friends many tutorials abut things they can do to pro-actively recruit more people to join the bone marrow registry.

International and Cooperative Registries
This is a list of the 78 registries I am aware of worldwide. Countries that are part of the international cooperative registry are marked as such so that people can see if they are able to help patients in other countries by joining where they live.

Helping Cristina
I recently assisted Cristina Di Corte's online bone marrow/stem cell donor drive campaign based in Toronto, Canada to find a marrow match. She suffers from a disease called MNGIE.

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