Seun Adebiyi is 26 and has both stem cell leukemia and lymphoma - a very aggressive form of cancer. He is simply one of the most compelling people you will ever meet and is brimming with possibilities. Seun went to MIT for undergrad, recently graduated from Yale Law School and is training to become the first person to compete for Nigeria in the Winter Olympics. His only chance for survival is to have a stem cell transplant.

The first thing that needed to be done was to tell Seun's story and create the sense of urgency that is necessary to save his life. He has received an incredible amount of help from many organizations - DKMS has been particularly helpful and effective. Seun's story has been carried by many media outlets including CNN, the Today Show, the New York Times, the Huffington Post and the New Haven Register to name just a few. He has also had public service announcements done by Mayor Corey Booker, the singer Rihanna and the actor Justin Chambers. He has, in addition, been featured in a documentary by Noah Hutton (see video above). His story has helped build the DKMS bone marrow registry by several hundred, and people are still joining in an effort to not only help him but to also respond to Seun's plea for them to help others who need donors.

Seun is from the Yoruba ethnic group in Nigeria and Become My Hero plans to use his fairly identifiable genetic heritage to recruit Nigerians of Yoruba heritage until he has at least three donors that match.

DKMS will be doing the bone marrow drives and we will be doing the cord blood collection. Focusing on Nigeria and not the United States is very important because Seun, as a pure African, has absolutely no chance of finding a perfect bone marrow match in a public registry or among any population in the United States. And while he may have a slight possibility of finding a partially matched bone marrow donor among African Americans, it is highly unlikely that this donor will be as beneficial and safe as finding a Yoruba donor in Nigeria. Remember, the better the match, the less likely you are to suffer from the life threatening graft versus host disease often associated with partially matched bone marrow cells.

The first bone marrow drives to ever take place in Nigeria were done for the benefit of Seun in December and will continue into 2010. Become My Hero has put several of the important things in place to start the collection of cord blood in Nigeria, including getting the collection kits ready for use in Nigeria, building political capital to make this happen, partnering with a large hospital in Nigeria's capital and developing a way to transport the cord blood in the timely manner necessary to insure that it remains biologically active. Cord blood Will be collected using a single hospital and either flown back to the States or to one of our partnering facilities in Europe or India for testing and storage. The collection will continue until we have three or four matches for Seun.

This is a very cost effective way to increase the inventory of cord blood that is currently missing from the global registries, much less those in the United States. Those that best match Seun will be set aside and stored for his use. The others will be added to the registry, stored in a public cord blood bank and made available to anyone that can use them. It will cost approximately $1,750 to collect, test and store the cord blood from each delivery.

A stem cell transplant and chemotherapy will likely rid Seun of his cancer. However, it is just one part of the answer. His cancer is particularly aggressive and may return if even a few cancer cells survive chemotherapy. We are, therefore, also helping to fund a research project at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center. The project will focus on ways to kill cancer cells that are resistant to chemotherapeutic agents. Chemotherapy is the primary tool used to treat cancer, and the knowledge gained from this research may someday help all those who suffer from cancer.

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