The family and friends of Jennifer Jones Austin are reaching out to the African-American community to find a donor that can save the life of the Brooklyn mother of two who has devoted her professional life to helping disadvantaged children and families in New York City.
Ms. Jones Austin, 41, has been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) and told that her chances of surviving the disease are slim unless she receives within the next few months a bone marrow transplant, which today is as simple as a giving blood. The most common process, the peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation, is a non-surgical out-patient procedure where 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.
“Jennifer is African-American and the chance of finding a match from African-American donors is 1 in 20,000, while the chance of finding a match from outside of her race is 1 in 1,000,000,” said Jamie D. Mitchell-Bowen, a friend whose children attend the same school as Ms. Jones Austin’s children.
“The “Be The Match Registry” is in great need of registered donors of African-American descent because while the Caucasian population has a 92+ percent chance of finding a match in the Registry, Jen and other members of minority groups have significantly less than half of that chance of finding a match in the current pool of donors,” Ms. Mitchell-Bowen said. “Recent statistical research indicates that there are more than 5 million Caucasian registrants and only about 500,000 registrants of African descent.”
Ms Mitchell-Bowen said today’s medical technology allows for testing of potential donors as well as actual transplants with little disruption to the life of the donor(s). Testing, for example, is a simple swab of the inside of the cheek. Ms. Jones Austin’s supporters have organized testing in Donor Identification Drives in homes, churches, and other locations throughout New York City, New Jersey, Ohio, and Maryland during December and January, and are seeking additional sites.
The scheduled testing locations are located on the Save Jennifer website at http://www.savejenaustin.com/events.php.
In New York City, a Donor Identification Drive is scheduled for Sunday, December 20, 2009 – 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Bethany Baptist Church, 460 Marcus Garvey Boulevard, Brooklyn, NY.
Additional donor drives are listed at http://www.icla.org , click on events and then marrow drives. These drives are being conducted by the registry and will also help Ms. Jones Austin find a donor.
On-line registration is another way for people to get tested. People may register online by going to http://join.marrow.org/JJA1068. Note that the “promo code is JJA1068. They will receive an at-home testing kit without charge, and have the option of making a monetary donation. The kit contains everything one needs to retrieve a testing sample at home. It is quick, painless and easy to do. Once the sample test is completed, it should be returned to the registry to be tested in an enclosed stamped envelope.
Ms. Jones Austin was born and raised in Brooklyn and currently resides in the borough. She is the youngest daughter of the late Rev. William Augustus Jones II, who was pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Brooklyn for 43 years. In addition to the devotion and commitment she shows to her own family, Ms. Jones Austin has dedicated her life to helping improve the lives of lower income and disadvantaged children and their families. Her efforts have benefited thousands of people across New York State and beyond, improving their chances for better health, education, and a safe living environment.
Professionally, Ms. Jones Austin is Senior Vice President of Community Investment for the United Way of New York City. Prior to joining the United Way, she served as New York City’s first Family Services Coordinator, a position to which she was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg after four years as a Deputy Commissioner in the City’s Administration for Children’s Services. As Family Services Coordinator, she was responsible for leading multiple interagency initiatives for children and families. She also played a lead coordination role in supporting the work of the Mayor’s Commission for Economic Opportunity. She has also served as Civil Rights Deputy Bureau Chief for Policy, Legislation and Public Outreach for then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, and as the Vice President of Development for LearnNow/Edison Schools Inc.
She is an alumna of Rutgers University, where she earned a BA degree; Fordham, where she earned a JD degree; and New York University, where she earned an MS in Management and Policy.