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March 9-13th 2016
Chicago, Illinois

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AHEPA Marrow Total Number of Active Donors:  15,320
AHEPA Marrow Team Pappas 3rd Annual 2008 Donors: 2114

AHEPA Marrow Annual Report | AHEPA Marrow Canister Program

Philanthropy: giving of yourself
AHEPA Marrow Donor Registry asks AHEPANS for support. 

Last year, some 35,000 children and adults with life-threatening diseases could have benefited from a marrow, blood stem cell or cord blood transplant. Some found a donor within their families, but 70 percent were put in the unthinkable position of desperately searching among strangers for a match. Steve Pappas was among them. A high school English teacher and one of the most respected basketball coaches in Chicago, Pappas was battling an aggressive case of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma this summer when doctors told him he was in urgent need of a transplant. None of his relatives turned up as a match. So, with a massive outpouring of support from former players and coaches, and his friends and teaching colleagues, Pappas turned to the AHEPA Marrow Donor Registry with a critical mission to find a compatible donor. Because Steve was Greek and because of the way the donation process works, that donor would likely have to be of Hellenic descent. We found the Greek community to be overwhelming in its moral support of “Team Pappas”, particularly the St. Demetrios parish in Chicago where Steve had long been a basketball coach. And we tested a remarkable number of volunteers—just under 3000 in three months. Sadly, though, it wasn’t enough to find Steve a donor. He died on June 8, 2006.

Steve's fruitless search is pretty typical. Greek cancer patients have a difficult time finding suitable marrow or blood stem cell donors because of the very fact that they are Greek—people of Hellenic heritage are severely under-represented in the national and international marrow registries. And our own AHEPA Marrow Donor Registry, with just 11,000 potential donors, is far from where it needs to be to provide tangible assistance for the vast numbers of Greek cancer patients. That's the sole reason why the Registry came into existence nearly 20 years ago. In 1987 Dr. Peter Gallas was stricken with acute myelogenous leukemia. He had recently received his M.D. from Wayne State University in Michigan, and was serving as a resident in anesthesiology at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Peter’s family in the United States and in Greece was tested, but no one came up as a compatible donor. Then, Dr. Peter Paulus (PSP) of Ocala, Fla. stepped in and volunteered to head an AHEPA Committee that would enact a nationwide effort to recruit funds and donors and, most importantly, to find Peter a match. Unfortunately, Peter died before a donor was ever found, but his legacy lives on in the AHEPA Marrow Donor Registry.

Since then, over the last 20 years, the Registry has been managed by a small but dedicated group of volunteers in New Jersey, led by Angelo Pantazes. This group had the difficult task of raising funds to cover testing costs for volunteer donors ($50 for each person tested), and, amazingly, adding nearly 9,000 active donors to the Registry database.

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