Once at the brink of dying from lymphoblastic lymphoma and stem cell leukemia, Seun Adebiyi has started the first ever bone marrow registry in Nigeria. This historic accomplishment began in 2009 when Seun was diagnosed with this delibitating form of cancer which requires stem cells transplant to replenish the affected cell. Adebiyi, who was working in the US found out that his odds of finding a successful match were complicated by the fact that African-Americans have less than a 17% chance of finding a bone marrow match.
Although he was still fighting for a cure, he traveled to his native Nigeria and partnered with Doctors Okoye and Sunday Ocheni to enlist 10,000 donors to the newly created bone marrow registry. Adebiyi’s harrowing search for a stem cell match came to an end when a Nigerian woman in the US donated her newborn’s umblical cord to the stem cell bank – it was a perfect match! Buoyed by the success of the transplant, Adebiyi and his team of doctors decided to also establish a cord blood bank in Nigeria.
The success of this ground breaking project means people of African descent will have access to a wider pool of stem cells to fight cancer. Last year, Nigeria performed its first stem cell transplant and Adebiyi wants to boost this medical breakthrough by raising enough funds for the cord blood bank to be in operation next year.