Bone Marrow Donors Sought in July 18 & 23 Drives for Lion King Actress

News   Bone Marrow Donors Sought in July 18 & 23 Drives for Lion King Actress
The first of two bone-marrow drives in honor of Shannon Tavarez — the 11-year-old star of The Lion King who was recently diagnosed with acute leukemia — is held 10 AM-4 PM July 18 in Manhattan. The Lion King, Disney Theatrical Productions and DKMS sponsor the initiative, which will also benefit cancer patients beyond the actress.
Shannon Tavarez
Shannon Tavarez

The July 18 drive will take place at the Encore Senior Center in St. Malachy's (commonly known as The Actors' Chapel). The July 23 (10 AM-3 PM) drive will be at the Minskoff Theatre, The Lion King's Broadway home. The cast and crew of The Lion King will appear at the Minskoff blood drive.

The drives will offer registration to become a bone marrow donor. A bone marrow transplant may be the only way to save the lives of Tavarez (who was appearing in The Lion King as Young Nala when she was diagnosed in April) and other patients like her.

"Registering to become a bone marrow donor starts with a simple cheek swab; it is a commitment to help save a life," according to organizers. "Donors must be between 18 and 55 and in good general health and meet the eligibility requirements. Upon completion of a simple registration form, prospective donors will receive a swab (with a cotton-tip) of the inside the cheek to collect cheek cells which identify HLA tissue-type. If prospective donors are found to be a match, a DKMS representative will contact them to answer an extended health questionnaire. At that point, a scheduled blood test and physical examination will ultimately determine if those candidates are in fact, the best suitable donors. When prospective donors register with DKMS, they will also be listed on the Be the Match Registry and to be a possible donor match for any patient in need of a bone marrow transplant."

"The laboratory cost incurred by DKMS for registering a new potential donor is $65. Payment of lab fees is not mandatory, but as a non-profit organization, DKMS depends on public donations and contributions to underwrite the fees."

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DKMS is the largest bone marrow donor center in the world, having collected over 200 million registered donors in its recruitment efforts on behalf of leukemia patients.

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