MINNEAPOLIS - Bone marrow donated from a total stranger saved Robert Guerrero's wife. Now the grateful world champion boxer is joining Be The Match® in the fight to make life-saving marrow transplants available for every blood cancer patient who needs one.
Guerrero will serve as an "Ambassador of Hope" for Be The Match, a nonprofit organization that connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant.
"My wife Casey had leukemia and she's alive today because she received bone marrow from a donor we found through Be The Match," Guerrero said. "I want to do everything in my power to help Be The Match bring that gift of life to as many other blood cancer patients as I can."
Thousands of patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases depend on the Be The Match Registry®, the world's largest and most diverse listing of potential bone marrow donors and donated umbilical cord blood units, to find a matched donor.
"My message is simple: Join the Be The Match Registry. You could be someone's cure," Guerrero said. "It just takes a few minutes to join the registry, and you could be called to save someone's life."
Guerrero, 29, a native of Gilroy, Calif., has won six world titles in four divisions. He is a rising star in the boxing world -earning the nickname "The Ghost" for his elusive style in the ring.
"We're thrilled to have Robert Guerrero in our corner as we take on leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers," said Jeffrey W. Chell, M.D., chief executive officer of Be The Match. "He and his family know from experience that when people join the Be The Match Registry, they can literally save someone's life."
In 2007, Guerrero faced his most challenging bout outside the ring. The boxer's wife, Casey Guerrero, was diagnosed with leukemia. Guerrero put his career on hold, vacating a world title to help care for his wife. Casey relapsed three times before she found a matching bone marrow donor. She underwent a successful marrow transplant in 2010. Doctors have declared her cancer free and she is doing well.
Guerrero and his wife are working to raise awareness about the importance of the registry by teaming up with Be The Match on a public awareness campaign in 2013 that will urge young people, especially those with diverse racial or ethnic heritage, to join the Be The Match Registry.
The organization is appealing to younger people because transplant patients who receive marrow from younger donors tend to have better outcomes. Also, since patients in need of a marrow transplant are more likely to find a match from someone of the same racial or ethnic background, increasing the racial diversity of the registry will help save even more lives.
Those interested in joining the registry can join online at BeTheMatch.org. It costs about $100 to add a new member to the Be The Match Registry and Guerrero is encouraging people to get involved in any way they can. In addition to joining the registry, people can spread the word or make a financial contribution to Be The Match to grow the registry, support research and deliver tangible relief to families struggling with uninsured transplant costs.