East Bay Crowds Come Out for Bone Marrow Drive to Save Teen Athlete

A bone marrow drive will be held Saturday in Oakland.

Crowds poured into Flick Middle School in Oakland Saturday, where a bone marrow drive was held to find a match for a star athlete and honor student struggling with cancer. 

Darryl Aikens, a 17-year-old student at McClymonds High School in Oakland, was diagnosed with Leukemia two years ago. The treatment worked and doctors thought he beat cancer, but now the cancer is back and doctors said a bone marrow transplant is needed in order for him to survive.

Dozens of people volunteered to be tested as a match, but finding one is especially difficult. Out of the 14 million donors on the Be The Match national registry, only 7 percent are African American. 

His mother recalled the day she found out the cancer had returned. 

"Got a call from the doctor and said he had more cancer cells in his spine," said Tierra Barker, his mother. 

Family and friends are not counting on a match being found through a donor registry. 

"He is an African-American who has only a 76% chance of finding a match on the registry. The more people that join the registry, the greater the chance all our patients will find a match," said an event organizer. 

To be eligible to donate, new registrants must be between the ages of 18-44, in good general health, and willing to donate to any patient in need. When matches are made, most donations are done through apheresis and no surgery is required.

Be The Match covers all associated costs and a donor’s insurance is never charged. Those who cannot attend the drive in person, or live out of the area, should register online at https://join.bethematch.org/TeamDarryl and a cheek swab kit will be sent by mail, along with a pre-paid return envelope.

For more information please contact Hannah Jacobs at hannah.jacobs@nmdp.org or 510-381-3963. 

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