Charlie’s Law Would Use DMV To Strengthen Bone Marrow Registry


Inspired by a local donor campaign to save the life of a Santa Clara County prosecutor with leukemia, a South Bay lawmaker proposes to use the DMV to diversify and grow the national bone marrow database and improve dramatically the prognosis of people who need stem cells to cure their illnesses.

Assembly Bill 1045, written by Assembly Member Evan Low, D-Campbell, would urge those registered with the DMV to join the national bone marrow donor program in the same way they are asked if they are ready to be donor donors. ‘organs. Eligible individuals who wish to enroll would rub the inside of their cheek using a provided test kit, submit the sample, and be entered into a donor registry. They would then be contacted if they became compatible with someone who needs a bone marrow transplant.

Medical experts say standardizing the introduction of people to the national bone marrow donor program could help reduce huge racial disparities in the country’s existing database, which has left hundreds of thousands of Americans with blood cancers and other diseases with little possibility of turning to a cure. .

“We are missing huge swathes of populations,” said Dr Lori Muffly, assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University, who specializes in blood and bone marrow transplantation. “Having a one-size-fits-all approach would radically change the awareness and the number of different types of donors we have. “

Charlie Huang – for whom Bill is nicknamed “Charlie’s Law” – is a veteran Santa Clara County prosecutor whose recurrence of leukemia earlier this year spurred an Asian-American donor campaign for both the ” help and bring public attention to how the current state of the National Bone Marrow Registry means Asian Americans have a 41% match rate for an adult bone marrow donor, compared to a rate 77% match for their white counterparts.

After Huang was featured in a May article by this news agency, he said he found a compatible donor and now defends Low’s bill to help people avoid his experience from reaching a point where options treatment seemed bleak.

“There were some really dark days in May, looking for a donor and not finding any,” he said.

Huang added that by expanding and diversifying the donor registry now, medical professionals and organizers can reduce the latency between when a potential donor signs up and can contribute bone marrow.

“I can’t believe no one has thought about it or done something like this until now,” Huang said of the institutionalization of bone marrow donor solicitations in the state. “It’s so easy to be a bone marrow donor… and you can save many lives. “

Under Low’s proposed bill, people registered with the DMV would be asked when applying online or in person if they would like to participate in the National Bone Donor Program. If online, a potential donor will automatically be directed to, and applicants in person will receive similar information.

Enrollment in the National Registry is straightforward, provided that a person meets the general eligibility requirements to be a U.S. resident between the ages of 18 and 44: a self-collection kit will then be sent to collect a cheek swab. , which will contain genetic data necessary to identify a bone marrow match.

Low said one of the catalysts for the law was knowledge of Huang’s experience, and once he saw the news he knew the time was right.

“Besides sending kind thoughts and prayers, you can sign up for this donor program,” Low said. “California is the world’s fifth largest economy and almost everyone interacts with the Department of Motor Vehicles. It’s easy, and we can scale it up on a larger scale.

Muffly said some of the challenges in getting people to sign up are the lack of broader education on what a donation entails. The marrow is extracted from a donor in a medical setting under anesthesia and usually requires a moderate recovery period of a few days.

“It’s a very doable, very low risk procedure,” she said. “And you can donate bone marrow stem cells and you’ll have a lot more to come.”

Jennifer McAtee, donor search coordinator for Stanford Health Care, said increasing volume and diversity in the national registry isn’t just about finding a match for ethnicities that lack representation. It is also about ensuring that there are enough matched donors in the system so that only one is available in the often urgent circumstances in which a transplant is needed.

“We just want it to be fair for everyone,” she said. “You shouldn’t be denied your second life because of your inheritance. “

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