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Helping Kids Beat Cancer And Blood Disorders

San Diego, California (NAPSI) - While for most young people the teen years are challenging  enough, for some, there are further complications and one such young  woman turned those into a way to help others.

The Problem

Here’s her story: Michelle Nguyen from Johns Creek,  Georgia has a rare blood disorder called thalassemia.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with  thalassemia have a genetic defect of their red blood cells that affects the  cells’ ability to produce normal hemoglobin. Red blood cells use  hemoglobin to carry oxygen to tissues. As a result of the defect, most forms  of thalassemia produce a chronic, lifelong anemia.

Nguyen’s had it since she can remember and needs routine blood  transfusions to maintain her strength. Every three weeks or so, she and her  mother are off to the Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center in Atlanta to  go through a process that should never be “routine” for a  14-year-old, but like most child patients, she takes it in stride.

What Nguyen really needs is a bone marrow transplant, but in order to have  that procedure, she needs to find a match, which is no easy task, especially  for someone of Asian descent. In spite of the efforts of such celebrities as  Robin Roberts of “Good Morning America,” who have championed the  cause, Asians and African-Americans are not well represented on the national  bone marrow registry. There are 10.5 million potential donors on the list and  only about 7 percent are Asian and another 7 percent are African-American.  Sixty-seven percent of potential donors on the list are white.

The Duck

Recently, while at the cancer center for her treatments, Nguyen entered a  contest to design the annual Aflac Holiday Duck for the 2013 season. Every  year, the insurance company produces a plush duck and sells it online at www.Aflacholidayduck.com and at  participating Macy’s stores. All the net proceeds go to the nearest  participating childhood cancer facility to where it was purchased. So far,  the program has raised more than $3 million of the $83 million that Aflac has  come up with for childhood cancer.

Nguyen was thrilled to know that her design won the contest and so will  help other kids who are going through the same types of trials that she goes  through. She wants to use her newfound stardom to amplify the need for marrow  donors, the need for improved childhood cancer treatments and additional  research.

How To Get It

Nguyen’s Holiday Duck comes in both a 6- and 10-inch version and  will be available through November and December.

Learn More

To learn more about bone marrow registration and how you can help, go to www.bethematch.org.