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Project Michelle Gains Momentum Nationwide


Contact: Christopher Lequang



Education Effort Critical To Eliminate Shortage of Minority Donors

San Francisco, CA, May 30, 2008 – Project Michelle, a nationwide grassroots initiative dedicated to increasing the deficient number of minority bone marrow donor registrants in the national registry, announced today the results of its first two weeks of donor registration drives. In 81 drives across 10 cities, Project Michelle volunteers have registered over 4,000 potential donors and received online requests for over 1,500 home registration kits - tremendous momentum toward achieving the initiative’s near-term goal of 15,000 new registrants in 5 weeks.

Project Michelle was formed in support of Michelle Maykin, a 26-year old acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patient facing a life-threatening, time-sensitive search for a bone marrow donor match. Since the initiative’s launch just two weeks ago, Project Michelle has received an outpouring of public support and inspired volunteerism within Asian American communities throughout the country. Project Michelle teams have been established in the San Francisco-Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York, Chicago, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Boston, and Seattle.

Project Michelle has generated awareness and registration efforts in many corporations including KPMG, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, Google, Kaiser Permanente, and Raytheon and has produced drives on numerous college campuses including Stanford, Harvard, The University of Pennsylvania, Columbia and UC Berkeley.

“The reception we’ve had from the communities who have heard Michelle’s story has been unbelievable, and the hard work put in by every volunteer has been an inspiration to Michelle and all of us in her family. Their efforts to date have paid off as we watch the number of new donor registrants climb daily, and we are enthusiastic about Project Michelle’s momentum.” says Hoang Mong Thu, mother of Michelle.

One of Project Michelle’s main goals is to bring attention to the dire shortage of minority bone marrow donors, an avoidable problem that could be eliminated by educating and reaching out to the over 10 million unregistered Asians in America. On any given day, there are over 6,000 patients who are in need of a transplant but do not have bone marrow donor matches. As a whole, only 3% of the U.S. population is registered as bone marrow donors. Myths of a painful donation procedure held over from an earlier era in medicine often deter potential donors from registering or cause them to back out when they are identified as a match and asked to donate. However, medical advances have made 70% of donations today non-invasive, using procedures similar to donating blood.

Joining the national donor registry is easy and painless. The process involves only a cotton swab sample of the inside of the cheeks in addition to the completion of a form. This can be done at local registration drives (www.projectmichelle.com/drives.html) or conveniently at home by requesting a free kit through AADP (www.aadp.org/pages/register.php). Donor registrations, in person or online, are free to all minorities.

It is encouraged that registered donors take the time to learn about the donation procedure to understand the entire process. Donor safety and well-being is a top priority of the NMDP. Additionally, a committee made up of medical directors helps ensure that safe and effective procedures are used throughout the process.

About Michelle

Born in Texas and raised in the Bay Area, Michelle has grown to become an amazing girlfriend, daughter, sister and friend to many. In 2000, Michelle graduated from College Park High School, where she served as ASB president, and then in 2004 from The University of California at Berkeley, where she joined the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity and met her boyfriend of six years, Van Le. Since graduating in 2004, Michelle has worked in advisory services at KPMG and has volunteered for organizations such as the Juvenile Detention Center in San Jose, OASES in Oakland, and Tzu Chi Foundation in San Francisco. In all her involvements, Michelle brings a contagious energy and spunk that people draw on for inspiration.

About Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

According to the American Cancer Society, acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer that starts in cells that would normally turn into white blood cells. “Acute” means that the leukemia can progress quickly, and if not treated, could be fatal in a few months. AML starts in the bone marrow (the soft inner part of the bones, where new blood cells are made), but in most cases it quickly moves into the blood. It can sometimes spread to other parts of the body including the lymph nodes, liver, and central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).

About Project Michelle

Project Michelle is a nationwide grassroots initiative created to help raise awareness of leukemia and educate people of the bone marrow donation process in an effort to grow the deficient number of Asian American registrants and the broader database as a whole. The goal is to enroll 15,000 donors into the national registry in hopes of finding acute myeloid leukemia patient Michelle Maykin a bone marrow match and eliminating the shortage of minority bone marrow donors.

For more information, please visit: www.projectmichelle.com.

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