Acute Leukemia was the first issue we fought against at Involver. I'm telling that story today because a great person, Amit Gupta, was just diagnosed with this disease.
Update: Seth Godin has offered $10,000 to anyone who is a match and donates to Amit.
In 2007, a young man named Vinay Chakravarthy was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Vinay was an impressive guy at the start of his career, having just graduated medial school. He was in his late 20s. The only chance Vinay had was a bone marrow transplant.
Now, had Vinay been of European descent, he would have had a 1 in 200 chance of finding a bone marrow match, but the South Asian community is severely underrepresented in the Bone Marrow Registry. A South Asian's chances of finding a bone marrow match were only 1 in 20,000.
South Asians were 100x less likely to find a suitable bone marrow donor.
But, Vinay's community rallied around him. And then around a second young man, Sameer, in the same situation.Celebrities recorded video testimonials. Cross-country donor drives were setup by the community. Several people became volunteer coordinators, helping spread the word in various ways.
Around this same time I started working with Involver. This was a VERY different time in the company's history. The team was 5 people working out of a subleased office in Palo Alto. Mike hadn't even finished school yet and was working from UC Irvine in between classes. But, it didn't take a big team to make a difference, just a well positioned one.
Involver (then called RapOuts) rallied around the mission as well, rapidly building a platform for social communities to help spread messages on social networks so that the Help Vinay campaign could use Facebook to spread the message. Ultimately we were successful in this aim.
The Help Vinay campaign was my first real introduction to the team that would ultimately create Involver and become my lifelong friends. Their passion to help empower the community fueled long hours and challenging goals. The idea was not only to help save Vinay and Sameer, but also to help save other South Asians who would face this scary situation in the future.
Help Vinay put a huge dent in the problem.
Both Vinay and Sameer ultimately found matches that gave them a fighting chance.
But the campaign didn't solve the underlying problem. The odds of finding a match in today's system is still low. The Registry needs more people, especially those of South Asian (and other minority) decent, to register.
Recently another impressive person, Amit Gupta, was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia and is looking for a bone marrow match. Amit has positively influenced the lives of literally dozens of my friends - helping them each find their own paths to happiness. He's inspired hundreds through his work at Jelly, Photojojo, and his community projects. Amit is a precious part of the human race.
I don't know if you've looked around lately, but we could use more people like Amit, not less. So let's fight for him.
So here are three ways you can help save Amit's life RIGHT NOW:
The test is simple (a cotton swab of the inside of your cheek). If you're a match for Amit (or anyone else), you can save their life with a simple and safe outpatient procedure to donate some marrow.
AML has stolen too many lives. Stop it from taking another one.