Abington teen takes stem cell registry campaign to Good Morning America

NEW YORK (WPVI) -- An Abington teenager's desperate search for a stem cell donor went national Thursday morning when he appeared on Good Morning America, urging more people to join the Be the Match bone marrow registry.

Juwan Adams, 17, was first diagnosed in April 2016, at the age of 13, with Hodgkins' lymphoma

"It was kind of hard to like tell people, Oh, I've got cancer," he said. "As I got older, then I got comfortable, with like, This is my life. I can tell more people."

"He's just always positive, " said his mother Andrea. "Even when I think the news is terrible, he's like, 'Well, all the legends go through stuff. That's how they become legends'."

He went through four years of treatments, including radiation, chemotherapy, and a failed stem cell transplant.

  • RELATED: Local teen hoping to find stem cell transplant

Despite the physical toll of his lymphoma and treatments, Juwan is the lieutenant in the Abington High School marching band, he tutors other students, achieved a 4.25 GPA, and was inducted into the National Honor Society.

"It's a never-stop attitude, it's never looking back, never feeling sorry for yourself," said his father.

Juwan celebrated his own birthday by launching a toy and book drive for other children in the oncology unit at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"I decided to collect toys to give to the hospital, so that other children will have something to do, to stay positive," said Juwan.

EMBED More News Videos

An Abington teenager's desperate search for a stem cell donor went national Thursday morning when he appeared on GMA to push more minorities to join the Be The Match bone marrow re

"This past year, we collected over 7,000 toys, and over 10,000 books," added Andrea.

In May 2019, Juwan's cancer had spread to his lymph nodes.

"He is a lot sicker than people realize," said Andrea. "He needs a full match transplant."

The Be The Match bone marrow registry doesn't have a match for Juwan, in part because there are so few African American donors listed.

Only 4% of donor registry African American.

"We need as many people, especially African Americans and minorities and mixed-race individuals to sign up to be the donors," says Andrea.

Juwan initially set a goal of getting 1,000 new donors signed up - but he's surpassed that.

So now, his goal is to get 3,000 new donors, half of them minorities.

"If you can, join the registry. It can save my life, and thousands of others," says Juwan.

The Be The Match registry has a special campaign on behalf of Juwan's cause. Text "Juwan61474" to get a home kit to register.

It's easy to do, with just a 10-second cheek swab, and an information form to fill out.

And donating stem cells is much easier and more comfortable than the bone marrow donations of the past.

"We take it through the vein, similar to a blood draw," says Erica Jensen of Be The Match. "You donate cells. We keep you comfortable. And you can save a life."

To join the Be the Match bone marrow registry, CLICK HERE.
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.