Hundreds turn out for marrow donor drive for rapper's sister

Monday, June 23, 2003

ST. LOUIS -- Jacqueline "Jackie" Donahue couldn't help but wonder if any of the hundreds of St. Louisans who turned out to register as potential bone marrow donors might be a match for her.

Donahue, the sister of Grammy-winning rapper Nelly, has leukemia, but she knows she's not alone in her battle.

"I'm not looking at it as, 'You could be here for me,"' said Donahue, 30. "I'm looking at it as, 'You made an effort to be a donor for anybody."'

Donahue was diagnosed with leukemia March 29, 2001. The cancer was in remission for nearly two years before she suffered a relapse in January, she said. It was then she learned she would need a bone marrow transplant.

Bone marrow drives were held over the weekend at America's Center in St. Louis and at the Hollywood Park Casino in Los Angeles.

Of the nearly 5 million people who have registered with the National Marrow Donor Program, only 388,000 are black, said Ione Terrio, a spokeswoman with the donor program.

"And your best match outside of a sibling is someone of the same heritage -- someone of the same racial or ethnic group," Terrio said.

The event Saturday produced 1,025 new donors, most of them black, Terrio said.

Among those who registered Saturday were Ashley Donahue, Donahue's 20-year-old sister, and Nelly, whose real name is Cornell Haynes Jr.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: