Saving lives. One swab at a time.

Photo of Juhee Vyas
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Date Started

May 31, 2018

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Idea (hoping to get started in the future)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

“Bone marrow” has gotten a bad stigma over the years, and even though the transplant is painless now, people are still not ready to let go of the toxic stories they have heard of. This procedure requires less than 5% of another donor’s marrow; however, finding a bone marrow match for some has dropped to less than 15% over the years. People need awareness. Awareness about the changes in medicine. Awareness about the simplicity of this transplant.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

The app we wish to create will potentially create a network of people for families who are facing Leukemia to rely on when finding a match for their loved one. By linking their app accounts with Facebook, users can consent to sharing their contacts, and their contacts will receive a text message and/or an email suggesting that they also register because someone they know is a now a part of the app. We will provide people with a questionnaire regarding their ethnicity, location, etc. when registering for the app. For example, if a South Asian person were to register, events going on in their area would also be linked to the app, and affected families in that locality would be able to see these events and could set up a booth to raise awareness and recruit people to register for Be The Match (a national bone marrow donor program). With this information, they can add events for their booth on a calendar within the app for users to know about and they will have the option of involving people within the network to assist with their booth. The users of the network can then sign up for slots for the event and volunteer at these drives and collect rewards in form of volunteer hours,etc.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Our solution can be best described if we understand it from the view of different stakeholders who will be integral parts of the overall system. Patient/Patient Family: Depending on the ethnicity of the individual patient in need of the bone marrow match, the app will be personalized to enhance the experience of our Web/Mobile platform. The patient view will enable them to connect to other patients through a social network, allow access to knowledge base in their respective languages, and connect with other patient families and doctors for support. The Donor: Once a donor is recruited via targeted campaigns through organizations or recommendations from the people they are familiar with, they will be in our system, will be able to access various features, and share the platform. Ethnic Organizations: Groups based on similar ethnicity can share events. Volunteers:Can volunteer for events.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Our project’s purpose is to empower the families in need of bone marrow transplants and those trying to create awareness in their communities. Instead of recruiting employees dedicated to this project, our solution is to create a window of opportunity to those already looking for a way to make an impact to share information at their local events. The project would also guide people to events that would have a high likelihood of finding bone marrow matches. It is a cheaper and more effective way of drawing people to joining the bone marrow donation network.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

One of the main reasons our team was drawn to this idea is two of our team members, whom are located in Atlanta, are currently participating in drives to find a match for a five year old girl named Kaiya in the UK who has been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of Leukemia and been given a two month prognosis. Our idea sparked from the ongoing process as we feel there can be a more effective way of bringing awareness to people while at the same time increasing the number of potential donors, as over the years we have gathered thousands of swabs in the hopes of finding a match for potential victims of this life-threatening disease. We would like to implement our plan to help us to not only find more donors but create a platform where we can establish a greater presence for this cause worldwide.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

The project is merely in its idea stage at the moment. In our community, efforts are already being made to try to find a marrow donor for a young girl in the UK. The long-term goal is to make an app that can connect families to local events that would allow them to share their story and recruit people to help the bone marrow donation network. Hopefully the project could also partner up with Be the Match, the national marrow donor program, to truly integrate the outreach efforts with collecting more marrow donations.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

We see our solution as bridging the gap between the National Bone Marrow Registry and the public. To implement our vision, we would need funding to outsource the creation of our app, gain the support of organizations and more people in the community.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

We are already paired up with local physicians, and this very day we have approached local temples, churches, and local community leaders to continue weekly drives/campaigns. One of the winners of the previous Ashoka challenges is the Tiwale Community Based Organization. We could use their help to build a startup and tailor strategies as their underlying charter is to help women entrepreneurs, and our team of three people is comprised of three women. We could potentially partner with the organization STEM FOR ALL as we are also targeting minorities, so we could learn how they are getting access to those in minority populations. Another organization we could potentially partner with is DUMA, as we plan to connect donors, the public, families of those and those needing a transplant, organizations, and volunteers. We hope to involve organizations such as Red Cross, UNICEF, Relay for Life, etc. into our app in hopes of enlarging the number of events available for families to set booths up at in their respective locations, globally. Furthermore, with these large organizations part of our network, we will have access to more users who are willing to volunteer at these booths.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Email


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Photo of Ariyan Miller

Hey There Fellow Changemaker,

Congrats on moving to the next phase. I wishing you the best of luck ! & I am sending love and light to all the positive things that you do.

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