COLUMBUS, Ga., Dec. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Hundreds of Aflac agents and employees will be queuing up in the next few days to have their cheeks swabbed as part of a new company initiative to boost the rolls of the National Marrow Donor Program. Aflac's Bone Marrow program kicks off at the company's annual national sales conference on December 12 in Atlanta.
The bone marrow registration effort was inspired by Steve Karas, an Aflac regional sales coordinator in Boston, whose stem cell donation recently helped save the life of Matthew Welling, a young Aflac claimant in New York. Matthew's parents had been told that without a transplant, he stood little chance of living beyond childhood. Matthew's doctors searched the National Bone Marrow registry for a donor and found Steve Karas.
"Through Steve's story we learned more about the pressing need for bone marrow registrants and wanted to do something as an organization to help," said Paul Amos, president and chief operating officer of the Georgia-based insurance company.
Indeed, the need is great. Individuals with life-threatening diseases such as leukemia and lymphoma must find a donor whose tissue type matches their own. Ideal candidates for a match are usually from the same ethnic background and race. The National Marrow Donor Program has about 11 million registrants today, but 61 percent of patients who need a bone marrow transplant do not receive one. And that's just among Caucasians. Among other racial groups, the match rate is far lower. For instance, about 83 percent of African Americans in need of a transplant do not receive one because African Americans are severely underrepresented on the donor registry. Individuals from racially or ethnically diverse heritage represent only 26 percent of the entire donor registry.
"On a daily basis, about 6,000 people search the registry looking for a life-saving match," said Dr. William G. Woods, director of the Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. "Increasing the pool of registrants increases the likelihood of a match, and will save lives."
For more than 50 years, Aflac products have given policyholders the opportunity to direct cash where it is needed most when a life-interrupting medical event causes financial challenges. Aflac is the number one provider of guaranteed-renewable insurance in the United States and the number one insurance company in terms of individual insurance policies in force in Japan. Our insurance products provide protection to more than 40 million people worldwide. Aflac has been included in Fortune magazine's listing of America's Most Admired Companies for seven years and in Fortune magazine's list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for ten consecutive years. Aflac has also been recognized three times by both Fortune magazine's listing of the Top 50 Employers for Minorities and Working Mother magazine's listing of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find out more about Aflac, visit www.aflac.com .
About the National Marrow Donor Program:
The NMDP facilitates unrelated marrow and cord blood transplants as a single point of access for a long-standing collaborative network of national and international leading medical facilities in marrow and cord blood transplantation. The NMDP connects patients, doctors, donors and researchers to the resources they need to help more people live longer and healthier lives. For more information call 1 (800) MARROW-2 or visit www.marrow.org . Join online at www.marrow.org/join .
(Photo:http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081215/CLM027 ) (Logo:http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20041202/CLTH019LOGO ) Media Contacts: Analyst and Investment Contact: Laura Kane Kenneth S. Janke Jr. Aflac Incorporated Aflac Incorporated 706.596.3493 1.800.235.2667, Option 3; Fax: 706.324.6330 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Jon A. Sullivan Aflac Incorporated 706.596.3493 email@example.com
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