Hundreds of volunteers Saturday crowded the sidewalks in Glendale, snaking from Glendale Memorial Hospital to Verdugo Park as part of the fifth annual Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry Walk of Life.
The walk is meant to drive awareness about bone marrow diseases, and to register potential bone marrow donors who could be matches for Armenian patients, said Frieda Jordan, a biochemist and president of the registry. Finding bone marrow matches is very complex, Jordan said, and even more so for ethnic subgroups.
"Leukemia is a killer; anybody who contracts that sort of cancer needs to have a match donor for their transplant," Jordan said. "It is very difficult for Armenians to find a match because genetically they are very unique."
Founded in 1999, the group has built its international registry to about 20,000 donors, said Dr. Evelyn Baghdasraian, a Glendale-based pediatrician. But donors' viability can expire with age (at 50 or 60, depending on the registry and procedure), meaning the organization has to continually recruit.