Press Releases

Seeking a Bone Marrow Donor – Letter from Shawn Austin

Dec 06, 2009

Dear Friends,

I am writing to request your urgent help in securing a bone marrow donor for my wife, Jennifer Jones Austin. Jennifer has been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Her chances of surviving the disease are slim unless she can undergo a bone marrow transplant within the next few months. In addition to our prayers, Jen needs our immediate actions to ensure her survival.

As you may know, Jennifer, 41, a wife and the mother of two children, ages 12 and 7. A fierce advocate for children and families, she has dedicated herself for over 20 years professionally as an attorney in the private and public sectors, a senior official for the City of New York and for the State of New York, and an executive for the United Way of New York City, and personally through board service and civic activities to helping to improve the lives of lower income and disadvantaged children and their families. Working to improve their chances for better health, education and a safe, living environment, Jennifer’s efforts have benefited thousands of people across New York State and beyond.

You can help Jennifer by becoming a registered donor with the Be The Match Registry and being tested to determine if you are a compatible match with her. We also need help in reaching as many people as possible to ask them to be tested. In registering, you have the potential to help extend Jennifer’s life and also to help other people in need. The Be The Match Registry is in great need of registered donors, especially those of African and Hispanic descent.

Today’s medical technology allows testing of potential donors as well as actual transplants with little disruption to the life of the donor(s). Testing is as simple as a swab of the inside of the cheek. The actual donor process is as simple as giving blood. The donor gives blood from an arm; a machine separates the blood-forming cells and returns the blood to the donor through the other arm.

To help Jennifer, please register yourself and others as donors by going online to Note that the “promo code” is JJA1068. You can receive an at-home testing kit without charge.

Here’s the challenge and opportunity in front of us:

Unfortunately, because African Americans and Hispanics are dramatically underrepresented in the National Bone Marrow Registries, while our Caucasian counterparts have a 92+% chance of finding a match, we only have significantly less than half of that chance of finding a match in the current pool of donors recorded in the Registry in order to survive. Recent statistical research indicates that there are more than 5 Million Caucasian registrants and only about 500K registrants of African descent. However, if we push really hard, fast and use our networks to get our folks educated, mobilized and registered, we could not only save Jennifer’s life but also save the lives of many others in our community.

Please also forward this letter (or your own personal note) to your friends, colleagues, churches, organization affiliations, etc., and ask them to register and be tested. Every person matters. Even if you don’t match with Jennifer, you may match another and help save a life.

4 important points to remember and convey about how easy it may be to save Jen’s life and other lives:

1- As stated above, all that is needed is a Cheek Swab to determine if you are a match for Jen or others.

2- Because of the progress of medicine and technology, donating bone marrow simply requires a blood donation. There is no longer a need for a surgical procedure to extract bone marrow.

3- Potential donors (individuals between 18 and 60 years of age) can either attend a drive or click the link above to go online and have a kit set to their home, swab their own cheek and send it in for processing.

4- Finally and most importantly – Prayer Changes Things! Please keep Jen and her family in your prayers.

Thanks in advance for your prayers, support and all you’re doing to help Jen and others. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or need more information. I can be reached at 917-331-310 at any time.