In late 2009, metro Atlanta resident Jermaine Reid was participating in a basketball game at his son’s school when he realized he was having difficulty catching his breath.
He found himself gasping for air, the passages in his nose restricted with blood clots, as he suffered intense fatigue and an overwhelming headache.
He was only 38 at the time and although he had been off the court for some years, he knew that something serious was afflicting him.
After bloodwork and further examination at Northside Hospital’s Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, Jermaine was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that was responsible for the death of 11,540 Americans in 2022 – roughly half the number of newly diagnosed cases that year.
Even after chemotherapy had settled his cancer into remission, it became apparent that Jermaine would need a bone marrow transplant if he were going to live. His care team went to Be The Match®, the national marrow donor registry.
However, the chances of a Black man finding a donor match in the registry are thin, with only a 23% chance compared to a 77% chance for Caucasians.
Despite unfavorable odds, Jermaine was able to find a donor, and on May 28, 2010, he received a lifesaving bone marrow transplant.
Following regulations from Be The Match, Jermaine finally had the opportunity to meet his donor, a United States Air Force member, a year after his transplant took place.
Today, the two men have developed a special and close relationship founded on this incredible shared experience.
Learn more about Be The Match® and how to join the marrow registry.
Learn more about the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at Northside.
UPDATE (December 2022): Jermaine told his story to National Bone Marrow Transplant Link.
*The health story shared here may portray atypical results of survival for this type of cancer, given its severity and stage. Atypical results are considered surviving a cancer that has less than a 50 percent five-year survival rate. Patients should consult an expert to discuss specific treatment plans and the possible outcomes before making medical decisions.