March 3, 2011
Be The Match
RUSTON -Yvonne Johnson's battle with skin cancer has been well publicized this year.
The mother of Louisiana Tech senior forward Adrienne Johnson has been a mainstay at Lady Techster home games during the last four years, never missing a game despite her fight with the illness.
And thanks to her daughter's public stage of playing college basketball for one of the most storied program's in the history of the game, Yvonne's story has received press across the state.
However, Yvonne Johnson is not alone in her fight with this disease and similar ones.
Every year, more than 10,000 patients in the U.S. are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases such as leukemia or lymphoma, and their best or only hope of a cure is a transplant from an unrelated adult donor or umbilical cord blood unit.
And most patients (about 70 percent) in need of a transplant do not have a matching donor in their family. They depend on the Be The Match Registry®, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), to find a match.
This Saturday, the Louisiana Tech basketball team is sponsoring a "Be The Match With the Lady Techsters" in honor of Yvonne Johnson and the tens of thousands of people in this country who are in need of a match.
From noon until 2 p.m. in the concourse of the Thomas Assembly Center, Tech fans and any individuals in the area are encouraged to participate in this easy, pain-free event. Members of the Louisiana Tech Lady Techster Tipoff Club will be helping on Saturday.
Individuals interested in participating are asked to come to the Thomas Assembly Center during the two-hour time period. To join, people need to be between the ages of 18 - 60, willing to donate to any patient in need, and meet health guidelines. Registration involves completing a health history form and giving a swab of cheek cells.
"Obviously, Yvonne Johnson's situation sparked the team's interest and involvement," said Mary LeSeuer, Account Executive for Be The Match Registry. "They have really embraced the program. Their efforts could not only possibly help Mrs. Johnson, but any number of patients across the country who have access to our database. We are just so appreciative of their efforts."
The event is similar to the one that the Lady Techster basketball coaches, players, and support staff participated in down in Franklin, La. - home of the Johnson's - on Dec. 18 when the team was traveling from New Orleans to Baton Rouge to face LSU the next day.
"The team participating in December meant so much to me and my family," Adrienne Johnson said. "I didn't expect anything less because we are all family. I really want to encourage people to come out this Saturday and participate. It's easy and pain-free and a chance for people to possibly help others. The more people that participate in the drive, the better the chance of finding a match for my mom and for anyone else who is battling this disease."
The Be The Match Registry provides access to 9 million potential donors and more than 185,000 cord blood units. Through partnerships with international registries, the NMDP provides additional access to more than 7.5 million donors and 365,000 cord blood units.
A patient's likelihood of having a donor on the Be The Match Registry who is willing and able to help save a life is estimated to range from 66 percent to 93 percent, depending on race or ethnicity.
Johnson and the Lady Techsters will close out their season Saturday at 2 p.m. when they face Idaho.