When Amit Gupta learned of his acute leukemia diagnosis last month, he wasn't shy about asking for help -- and neither were his tech-savvy friends.
The 32-year-old online entrepreneur has launched a full-blown social media campaign in search of a marrow match. Gupta created a Twitter account (he's now a trending topic on the site) and Tumblr devoted to updating his 14,600+ followers on his health and offering instructions on how to help.
To motivate potential donors, some of Gupta's friends have put together a generous reward for the first successful marrow match. After learning it was illegal to pay for an organ, Gupta's generous supporters said they would donate to whomever matches, regardless of whether he chooses to donate, according to Bloomberg.
First, online marketing executive and colleague Seth Godin offered $10,000 dollars to the first person whose marrow matched that of Mr. Gupta. Then, Michael Galbert, co-founder of Aviary, and Jake Lodwick, co-founder of Vimeo matched his finders fee, bringing the grand reward total to $30,000, reports CTV News.
The outpouring of support from the virtual network Gupta has accumulated has given him hope. "Just seeing all these people getting tested or organizing drives, I don't think any single thing other than that has lifted my mood. I cannot be thankful enough," Gupta told NBC Bay Area.
Gupta is Indian, an underrepresented population in the national bone marrow registry. Ethnicity can be a determining factor in bone marrow matches, but a limited pool of potential donors isn't the only difficulty facing Gupta's hunt. The chances of a South Asian locating a match is 1 in 20,000, reports NBC Bay Area.
"Unlike blood transfusions...successful marrow transfusions rely on matching as many as 10 different genetic markers...For South Asians, the search is further complicated because populations from the region have more combinations of genetic markers than any other group," reports the New York Times.
But for Gupta and his friends, the reward for donations means means "more people who would have never thought about being part of the donor bank, now are. And that means matches for thousands of people who would have never stood a chance otherwise," reports NBC Bay Area.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
1. If you live in New York City, you can attend the Brown Bones Benefit Party in TriBeCa on October 14th for cocktails and cheek swabs to see if you are a match.
2. Parties are also in the works in San Francisco, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Mich., Dallas and New Haven, Conn.
2. Register through the National Marrow Donor Program and get a free test by mail. Swab your cheek and send the kit back. If you aren't a match for Amit, you might be for someone else!
3. Organize a donor drive near you to register neighbors, friends, and strangers in your area. For free kits, flyers, and logistical tips, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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