BALTIMORE (WJZ) — At St. Francis of Assisi, they had one person sign up for their contactless drive-up bone marrow registry drive, this as thousands of patients need a bone marrow transplant to survive.

The empty parking lot is a stark reminder of how difficult it’s been to register bone marrow donors during the pandemic.

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“We are now down 82% in bone marrow registrants,” said Mary Kaye DiUbaldo, with There Goes My Hero.

The contactless drive-up bone marrow registration drive is a team effort between the church and There Goes My Hero, an organization the works to register donors. This is only the fourth drive they’ve held since March of last year, and normally that number would be in the hundreds.

The location was selected with the hopes of registering more donors of color. According to There Goes My Hero, African-, Asian-, and Latino-Americans only have about 25% chance of finding a match for a bone marrow transplant.

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“We want to close that racial gap, so our aim is to find more people with ethnic backgrounds to be a part of the bone marrow donor registry,” said Charis Taylor-Whitley, Americorp Volunteer Coordinator.

Bone marrow is used to help patients fighting blood cancers and blood disorders. For the thousands on the donor list, it’s a life and death situation.

“It breaks my heart because people are dying because they cannot find a match for a bone marrow transplant,” DiUbaldo said.

The test to find out if you are eligible to donate is rather simple, a swab of the cheek, and you’re officially registered.

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There Goes My Hero is looking for partners to host these drives. The more people that sign up the higher the likelihood a match is found.

Sean Streicher