St. Louis community joins nationwide Cure Bilal bone marrow match drive campaign inspired by 15 year-old Bilal Mallick to save lives

West County Pediatric Dentistry in Ballwin, MO, with help from the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) and Be The Match Foundation, will host a bone marrow registration drive as part of the Cure Bilal campaign on Sunday, February 27th from 10am to 5pm at 956 Kehrs Mill Road in Ballwin, MO.  All healthy individuals between the ages of 18 and 60 are invited to become donors to help save lives.

Bilal Mallick was a smiling and engaging 15-year-old and sophomore at Naperville North High School in Naperville, Ill., who was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a form of blood cancer, in January of 2011.  After an initial round of chemotherapy, he succumbed to an infection and passed away on February 13, 2011.

After being diagnosed, Bilal's best chance of survival rested in a bone marrow transplant.  While his family and friends sought out a donor through the Be The Match registry, they learned something disturbing:  There is a staggeringly low percentage (1.7%) of potential donors of South Asian descent, making it unlikely for Bilal to find a match.  In normal cases, the odds for a bone marrow match are roughly one in 10,000.  In the South Asian community, the lack of donors currently registered makes that number even more difficult.

Bilal strongly believed in the cause, not just for his own health, but to help others in need.  Family and friends have taken up the cause on Bilal's behalf, organizing national bone marrow drives in an attempt to have 100 sessions in the next 50 days and bring in 20,000 new donors.

What started as a local drive in Villa Park, Ill., has evolved into a national campaign to honor the young man to save lives of others and provide hope to families.

Every year, more than 10,000 patients in the US are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases such as leukemia or lymphoma for which a marrow or cord blood transplant from an unrelated donor may be their best or only hope of a cure.  Most patients (above 70%) in need of transplant do not have a matching donor in their family and depend on the NMDP's Be The Match Registry.

Jackie, a donor to a 12-year-old survivor said, "I will never regret in my life joining that registry!  You can do good things while you're on earth, and things to help people live longer on earth."

To learn more or join the Cure Bilal campaign, please visit www.curebilal.org.

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