Three Year Old Claimant Inspires Company to Help Patients in Need
COLUMBUS, Ga., Dec. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Hundreds of Aflac agents and
employees will be queuing up in the next few days to have their cheeks swabbed
as part of a new company initiative to boost the rolls of the National Marrow
Donor Program. Aflac's Bone Marrow program kicks off at the company's annual
national sales conference on December 12 in Atlanta.
The bone marrow registration effort was inspired by Steve Karas, an Aflac
regional sales coordinator in Boston, whose stem cell donation recently helped
save the life of Matthew Welling, a young Aflac claimant in New York.
Matthew's parents had been told that without a transplant, he stood little
chance of living beyond childhood. Matthew's doctors searched the National
Bone Marrow registry for a donor and found Steve Karas.
"Through Steve's story we learned more about the pressing need for bone
marrow registrants and wanted to do something as an organization to help,"
said Paul Amos, president and chief operating officer of the Georgia-based
Indeed, the need is great. Individuals with life-threatening diseases
such as leukemia and lymphoma must find a donor whose tissue type matches
their own. Ideal candidates for a match are usually from the same ethnic
background and race. The National Marrow Donor Program has about 11 million
registrants today, but 61 percent of patients who need a bone marrow
transplant do not receive one. And that's just among Caucasians. Among other
racial groups, the match rate is far lower. For instance, about 83 percent of
African Americans in need of a transplant do not receive one because African
Americans are severely underrepresented on the donor registry. Individuals
from racially or ethnically diverse heritage represent only 26 percent of the
entire donor registry.
"On a daily basis, about 6,000 people search the registry looking for a
life-saving match," said Dr. William G. Woods, director of the Aflac Cancer
Center and Blood Disorders Service of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
"Increasing the pool of registrants increases the likelihood of a match, and
will save lives."
For more than 50 years, Aflac products have given policyholders the
opportunity to direct cash where it is needed most when a life-interrupting
medical event causes financial challenges. Aflac is the number one provider of
guaranteed-renewable insurance in the United States and the number one
insurance company in terms of individual insurance policies in force in Japan.
Our insurance products provide protection to more than 40 million people
worldwide. Aflac has been included in Fortune magazine's listing of America's
Most Admired Companies for seven years and in Fortune magazine's list of the
100 Best Companies to Work For in America for ten consecutive years. Aflac has
also been recognized three times by both Fortune magazine's listing of the Top
50 Employers for Minorities and Working Mother magazine's listing of the 100
Best Companies for Working Mothers. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500
company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find
out more about Aflac, visit www.aflac.com .
About the National Marrow Donor Program:
The NMDP facilitates unrelated marrow and cord blood transplants as a
single point of access for a long-standing collaborative network of national
and international leading medical facilities in marrow and cord blood
transplantation. The NMDP connects patients, doctors, donors and researchers
to the resources they need to help more people live longer and healthier
lives. For more information call 1 (800) MARROW-2 or visit www.marrow.org .
Join online at www.marrow.org/join .
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