EDISON, NJ – The South Asian Marrow Association of Recruiters (SAMAR) held their 25th anniversary celebrations, on November 18, in Edison, New Jersey.
The event honored some marrow donors, who have helped to save lives of patients they did not know.
November is also celebrated as the National Marrow Awareness Month.
Founder of SAMAR, Rafiya Peerbhoy Khan, came to the US from Mumbai, India, with a dream to get involved in a life saving project and she says today she has fulfilled this dream with the work she is engaged in with SAMAR.
“It has been an amazing journey for 25 years,” she said. “We have been through a range of emotions; we have shed both tears of joy and sadness. These 25 years have taught me the extraordinary value of human life and dedication to the cause of finding a matched marrow donor for patients with fatal blood disorders.”
“I want to live” was a remark that inspired Khan to start SAMAR in 1992, along with her husband Moazzam Khan.
SAMAR was started to help a young boy who made this remark and provide a cure for many others like him in the same situation.
SAMAR is an official center and a legacy recruitment group of congressionally authorized ‘Be the Match’ national registry. It is a non-profit organization that serves patients from all ethnic groups. They also serve medically challenged patients diagnosed with leukemia and other fatal blood disorders.
“Our donors have made an impact globally, including India,” said Khan.
Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with a fatal blood disorder and every 10 minutes some one has lost the battle to this disease, according to statistics.
Due to the shortage of ethnically diverse donors, including South Asians, in the national registry, patients are at a disadvantage to finding a lifesaving marrow match. SAMAR pioneered effective educational materials directed to cultural sensitivities of these diverse groups.
“In spite of the exhaustive and collective efforts of SAMAR, patient families and volunteers, we still do not have a large enough pool of genetically matched donors for patients in need for a cure. We face challenging tasks to educate, register committed donors and to collect funds to continue this program,” khan said, appealing to all the community at large to come forward and collectively join in this life saving crusade.
SAMAR has registered over 100,000 people and facilitated more than 180 transplants.
“While we have made great strides, we continue working with patient families who have not yet found a donor. All patients go through a tough battle, and together we can help them by registering more committed donors,” said Khan.
Khan said that she is helped in her efforts also by volunteers, her son Asad Khan, Dr. Ron Jacob and all staff members.