Be the Match

We are posting this because Mel Tyler needs your help and his UMKC family is rallying to his aid and hope you will as well.

Mel Tyler is Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at the University of Missouri—Kansas City (UMKC).  He has spent his entire professional career in education, serving in various roles coaching and assisting students at both the secondary and post-secondary level.  He started his career at Central High School in St. Joseph before joining Missouri Western State University where he served as the Assistant Dean of Students, Assistant Basketball Coach and Assistant Director of Admissions.  He’s been at UMKC since 1994.

Mel was diagnosed with stage 3 multiple myeloma in April 2009.  Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells, a type of white blood cell present in bone marrow. Plasma cells normally make proteins called antibodies to help fight infections. In multiple myeloma, a group of abnormal plasma cells (myeloma cells) multiplies, raising the number of plasma cells to a higher than normal level. Since these cells normally make proteins, the level of abnormal proteins in the blood also may go up. Health problems caused by multiple myeloma can affect the bones, immune system, kidneys and red blood cell count.

Mel has undergone two stem cell transplants (using his own stem cells) and many rounds of chemotherapy in an effort to put the cancer in remission.  His physicians have indicated he will likely need a donor stem cell transplant in the future and at the present time there is no match for Mel in the national registry.

The National Marrow Donor Program (www.bethematch.org) indicates that because tissue types are inherited, patients are most likely to match someone of their own race or ethnicity.  Registry members from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds are especially needed so every patient has a second chance at life.  Mel was told that because he is African American, there was about a 15% chance that he would find a match.  Registry members of these backgrounds are urgently needed:

  • Black or African American
  • American Indian
  • Asian, including South Asian
  • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Multiple races

Joining the registry is initially as simple as getting a cheek swab to see if you may be a match.  UMKC will be hosting two upcoming “cheek swab clinics”:

  • Friday, April 23, 2010 (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) at the School of Dentistry, Room 434
  • Tuesday, April 27, 2010 (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) in the University Center, Room 106

There is a health screening involved so for those who may be unable to join the registry, other ways to help include:

  • Making a gift to the Be The Match Foundation (it costs $100.00 to tissue type the cheek swab so donations are needed)
  • Volunteering with a recruitment or donor center
  • Spreading the word about this unique chance to save a life

His experience has made Mel more aware of the need for all donors; he is now hoping to use his situation to educate others to increase the number of people in the registry. For more information on the clinics or if you have questions, please contact Jennifer DeHaemers at 816.235.1143 or dehaemersj@umkc.edu.

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