Leukemia Patient Nearly Dies; Twin Has Idea to Save Thousands

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Courtesy of Graham Douglas(NEW YORK) — For nearly 18 years, Graham and Britton Douglas believed they were fraternal twins.  That was until Britton needed a bone-marrow transplant because chemotherapy for his leukemia had failed.

The Fort Worth, Texas, brothers learned that they were identical twins, sharing the same DNA, and therefore Britton could not receive his brother’s bone marrow because their genetic make-up was too similar to fight the cancer.

Today, at 27, Britton Douglas is a healthy, successful Dallas lawyer, thanks to a bone marrow donation by a stranger.  But Graham, knowing that he nearly lost his only sibling, has been on a mission for nearly a decade to find better ways to get more Americans to become donors.

He came up with a simple concept that could save the lives of tens of thousands of Americans with leukemia who are waiting for a bone-marrow transplant: packing a swab kit inside a box of bandage strips.

A senior creative at the New York City advertising agency Droga 5, Graham found his inspiration last year while teaching a portfolio class at a commercial arts school.

Year after year, he has challenged his students to find a creative solution to attract more donors.  Two students he refers to as the “Spanish team” — Alfredo and Alberto — came up with the “germ” of an idea last year, and it has now hit the market.

The consumer healthcare company Help Remedies partnered with Graham and the world’s largest bone marrow donor center, DKMS, to release the new product — “help I’ve cut myself & I want to save a life.”  The cost is $4.

Before applying a bandage strip to a minor cut, consumers can swab their blood and then send the sample in a self-addressed, stamped envelope, along with their age and email address, to DKMS.

The donor center will then follow up to get more information on how the consumer can become a donor.  All potential donors are anonymous and there is no obligation to donate bone marrow, even if a match is found.

The three-year-old start-up Help Remedies is known for its minimalist packaging and unusual product names.  For now, the over-the-counter marrow registry kit is only available on its website.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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