Local teen hoping to find stem cell transplant match through Be the Match bone marrow registry

ABINGTON, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A local teenager in need of a life-saving stem cell transplant is encouraging more people, especially minorities, to join the bone marrow registry.

Juwan Adams, 17, proudly plays the snare drum for the marching band at Abington Senior High school. He's also on the national honor roll and a math tutor.

Unfortunately, he's doing all this while also battling cancer. "It's a little rough some times. There are some days you just want to be normal but other days realize you just have to keep fighting," he said.

Four years ago, he was first diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. He spent weeks at Children's Hospital, undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.

He was inspired to start a book and toy drive for the hospital and now he does it every year on his birthday, July 20th.

"I don't really like getting presents and people would ask what can we do, I was like you could help me by helping me help other people," he said, adding it's like Christmas in July.

His cancer was in remission until it came back last year.

Now, Juwan needs a gift. He needs a stem cell transplant. His brothers and other family aren't a match and so far, nothing has come up on the Be The Match registry.

Juwan is urging more people, especially African Americans, to sign up.

Gabrielle Morales, who helps recruit for the registry, says "There is a huge lack of African Americans on the registry, for African Americans like Juwan they have about a 23-percent chance of finding a match."

Compare that to 77-percent for Caucasians.

It's simple to join the registry. A kit is mailed to your home with instructions to swab your cheeks and return the envelope.

"Even if you don't think you are a match for me, at least still register for other people because it could maybe help one of your family members or honestly someone who needs it," said Juwan.

He is trying to get 1,000 new people to join the registry with half being minorities. To help, text: savejuwan (all one word) to 61474 to start the process.

To register for Be the Match, you have to be between the ages of 18-44.

For more information, visit: BetheMatch.org
Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.