Hispanic bone marrow donor advocate accepts family donation

CORPUS CHRISTI ? Cristina Rodriguez had some special thanks for family on Thanksgiving, although she couldn't be with them. "It was sad we didn't get to see her on Thanksgiving," said her sister Carolina Joslin, "but we're extremely happy that things are going great for her." Her 31-year-old former Zumba instructor sister, who has been advocating for more Hispanic bone marrow donors since she was diagnosed with cancer, got a donation. It was from her dad. He's only a 50 percent match, which is riskier than a perfect match. "Doctors said it can reject," Joslin said, "but they have medication for that and it seems to be a success so far." Rodriguez expressed blessings before ? being among non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients who survived with chemotherapy and stem cell treatments from their own bone marrow. It's the blessing that prompted her to speak out for less fortunate Hispanics who needed bone morrow transplants. Hispanics are less likely to find a match statistically. There are 95 million people registered as bone marrow donors. About 940,000 of them, or 10 percent, identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino. Hispanics comprise more than one-third of Texas' population, yet only 17 percent of registered bone marrow donors in the state are Hispanic. Non-Hodgkins lymphoma is the fifth most common cancer among Hispanics ? who have a 72 percent chance of finding a bone marrow donor, compared with a 93 percent chance for Caucasians, according to the donor program. Patients needing marrow donations are more likely to find a match within their own race because tissue types used to match patients with donors are inherited. Rodriguez has increased awareness locally. She sponsored a May Zumba event that signed 21 people on the registry; and another 81 people filled out paperwork at her church in August, as they lined up to have cheeks swabbed hoping for DNA that matched Rodriguez. Rodriguez could not be reached Saturday at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.