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AHEPA Marrow � About Us

The mission of the Ahepa Marrow Donor Registry is to add persons of Mediterranean descent into our database of prospective donors. The best chance for a leukemia patient is from a family member. Secondly, from relatives, and then from their ethnic group.

The chances of finding an unrelated (allogeneic) match are 20,000 to 1. We must add to our database so that any Greek patient has a realistic chance of finding a match.

Since April 2006, we've added 3,000 donors to the Registry. And we're already doing good things. More than 4000 patients around the world have searched our database since then, and three of our donors have been asked to "be at the ready" for a donation (cancer patients have to be "healthy" enough to receive the transplant).

But we still have significant challenges before us. The truth is that we are at a very critical point for the Registry. Awareness is building, but some members of our Greek American community are hesitant to get tested. They dont know that tremendous strides have been made in marrow transplants and that, today, it is much easier to be a donor. You dont necessarily have to go under anesthesia and have marrow extracted from your hip; now, blood stem cells can easily be removed from your blood with minimal risk. It's an outpatient procedure, most often. Mothers-to-be can also choose to donate the umbilical cord blood that is otherwise discarded as medical waste when their babies are born.

So how can you, our AHEPA family, help? There are a number of things you can do:

Educate others. Understand the need that exists to enhance the number of prospective marrow donors of Greek descent. Make it a mission to build awareness among your contacts and to recruit people to come out and get tested during the ongoing blood-testing drives we host for patients around the country.

Get tested. Its not enough to spread the word. We also must test ourselves as potential marrow donors. Any one of us might hold the cure for cancernot in the form of a vaccine or pill, but in the blood-forming cells inside our bodies. A simple mouth swab is all it takes to find out. Each person is tested at a cost of $50 to the AHEPA Marrow Donor Registry. Last summer, we incurred more than $180,000 in expenses to test prospective marrow donors during drives for Steve Pappas and other patients around the country. That's why we host a competitive Canister Drive among the various AHEPA chapters and districts. We ask that you distribute our canisters to retail channels and restaurants in your hometown to help raise funds a few coins at a time!

Greeks, particularly of the Diaspora, have a tremendous legacy of philanthropy. The good works of AHEPA are outstanding examples of that. So we're just asking that you make us a more significant part of your already-noble mission. Help us help Greek patients with terminal cancers, blood disorders and auto-immune conditions during what is the most difficult part of their personal journeys. At the Registry, we look at our mission of philanthropy as a very individual thing: if we each give of ourselvesand that means getting tested as a potential marrow donorwe can offer someone the most charitable of all donations: a second chance at life.

Committee

  • Chairman Emeritus Angelo J. Pantazes. Mt. Arlington, NJ
  • Co-Chairman: John Venetos, MD, Chicago, IL
  • Vice-Chairman/Treasurer: Alex Gountanis, Rolling Meadows, IL
  • Development Fund Coordinator: Helen D. Koutouzakis, Durham, NC
  • Canister Chairman: Chris Moustakis, Cedar Grove, NJ
  • Medical Advisors: Adrianna Vlachos, Assoc. Head, Stem Cell Transplant Program, Schneider Childrens Hospital, New Hyde Park, NY
  • John Venetos, Chairman of Medicine, Swedish Covenant Hospital, Chicago, IL

Learn about our upcoming drives

 


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