In May 2020, Ariana Geller's ('13) father was diagnosed with leukemia. "It was very out of the blue," Ariana says. "He was getting some blood work done. He had no symptoms or anything." While May 2020 was not an easy month for anyone, the Geller family had to reckon with a sudden serious health issue that had nothing to do with the current COVID-19 pandemic. "A month or so later, [my dad's] doctors started talking to him about bone marrow transplants and that it was the best way to start curing the cancer," Ariana explains.
The hospital where Ariana's father was getting treatment works with an organization called Be The Match, which is a donor bank for bone marrow and blood stem cells. And luckily, while working with the organization, Ariana learned how simple it is to sign up to be a bone marrow donor and to save lives. "My main priority is to get people to sign up," Ariana says. The Geller family has a personalized QR code from Be The Match which donors can use.
"Once you sign up, they send you the kit to your house," Ariana says. "It's very convenient, especially during COVID, because you can do the swabbing yourself... we have about 350 people signed up to receive the swab kids, and 159 have been fully processed so far." Additionally, Ariana says that by adding to the Be The Match donor base, you can help families that are caught off guard by a cancer diagnosis like the Gellers.
There's also something special about using the Geller's QR code. "I had this idea while we were watching the news on Brionna Taylor and George Floyd's deaths and hearing about the Black Lives Matter protests, and I wanted to give back to a community that's been struggling for years," Ariana says. "My dad had also just read Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson, so he wanted to donate to the Equal Justice Initiative."
If you sign up for Be The Match using the Gellers' QR code, the Geller family will donate $5 to the Equal Justice Initiative for up to $1,000.