This teen is on a mission to recruit more African American bone marrow donors

With the bone marrow registry made up of only 4% African Americans, Juwan Adams, who is in need of a donor, works to get more to register.
7:03 | 02/20/20

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Transcript for This teen is on a mission to recruit more African American bone marrow donors
We have talked a lot on this show about how joining the bone marrow registry can save lives but this morning we want to bring your attention to a startling statistic. Only 4% of the donor registry is made up of African-Americans and this is a stat that a young man named juwan Adams is all too familiar with. He needs a donor match and he's only got a 23% chance of finding one because he's African-American. So now juwan can on a mission using his story as a call to action. In every marching band the drum line is the heartbeat. And the heart of this band is 17-year-old juwan Adams. The best part about being in a marching band is the competitions and getting to meet a bunch of other people. Reporter: He's a devoted football fan. The giants are the best team by far. Reporter: With great taste. And in many ways he's your typical teenager. I like to play basketball. Hang out with my friend, I play Reporter: But this high school senior isn't counting down the days until graduation, he's counting down the days until he finds a blood stem cell donor. I was first diagnosed with April of 2016 with Hodgkin's lymphoma. It's important I find a match because it's really going to save my life. Reporter: Diagnosed at the age of 13, juwan began rigorous treatments. It's kind of hard to tell people, oh, I have cancer. As I got older I realized to be more comfortable knowing this is my life so I can tell more people. Reporter: Over four years of multiple courses of radiation, chemotherapy and a failed stem cell transplant never once did juwan's spirit falter. He's just always positive. Like even when I think the news is terrible he says, well, all the legends go through stuff. That's how they become legends. Reporter: His unwavering courage on display while serving as lieutenant in the marching band, tutoring other students, volunteering, maintaining a 4.25 GPA and getting inducted into the honor society. A never stop attitude and never looking back. Never feeling sorry for yourself. Reporter: When it came time for his birthday he created an annual toy and book drive for others. I decided to collect toys to give to the hospital so kids would have things to do and stay positive and that was like my birthday gift to give gifts to other kid. This last year we collected over 7,000 toys and about 10,000 books. Reporter: In may of 2019, juwan received news his cancer has spread to his lymph nodes. He is a lot sicker than people realize. He needs a full match stem cell transplant. Reporter: The national bone marrow registry be the match currently does not have a match for juwan. Partly because there are not enough African-American donors. So that's why we need as many people especially minorities and mixed race individuals to sign up to be the donors. Juwan has now made this his cause. If you can, please join the registry. It could really save my life and it could save thousands and thousands of lives. Juwan Adams is here with us in the studio and we're also joined by Erica Jensen from be the match. Thank you both for joining us. Juwan, incredible, incredible story. But you set out to have a goal. You wanted to get -- you had a goal to get a thousand people registered to be marrow donors and crushed that. That was done before you knew it. But you have a new goal now. What is it. My new goal set 3,000 in the registry with half being minority. That would be fantastic because we don't have enough minorities and that's what this is all about and we know you need to find a donor. You're not just here for yourself. What's your message? There's not African-Americans on the registry and like me, this could save my life but we're looking to save a lot of other people's lives so we need to come together and make it we can all do this together. Erica, thank you for joining us as well. We talked about this before on the show. When it comes to registering or if you are a match a lot of people have a misconception about how tough it is. That they have this thing they think it's harder than it is but explain what happens. It's very easy to join the registry. Can you go on right now we have a campaign especially for juwan. You can text juwan to 61474. Go till out some information, we'll send you a kit. You swab your cheeks juice really easy, ten seconds and send it back. We'll type you and see fur he a match and for the actual donation process it's easy, there is a lot of movies and predictions about how terrible it is but it's not that bad. We take it through the vein similar to a blood draw and donate the cells and keep you comfortable and safe and you can save a life or something so Because a lot of people think it involves big needles an all these things but that's not necessarily the case. That's not necessarily the case, 80% of the time it is that simple procedure I just described. Cycling it out, getting life-saving cells and transferring to a patient like juwan who needs it. I think that's important for people to know. It is not as tough as you may believe it should be and is so make sure you please donate and be a donor. The result is so amazing. The result is amazing because you get a young man like this who is so driven and continues to push forward even throughout all of this and once you are healthy, I cannot wait to see what you're going to do my friend. I found out while we were doing the story and watching that piece I found out you're a new York giants fan. You're wearing a saquon Barkley Jersey. Your mom had on an eagles shirt and you live in philly so it must be tough. It is. Tell me about how tough that must be. Well, me and my dad are giants fans an my mom and my little brother are die-hard eagles fans. Whenever the giants play the eagles it's always who is going to win, banging heads in the house, you know, but I grew up just watching the giant, you know, I knew you played for the giant, one of my favorite players, you and Lawrence Taylor and saquon and Eli manning but I grew up, I just liked giants. I like how much of a family they are. They win and lose together. That is view. We've been losing a lot together. Lately, lately we have. Your father is here. Your father is joining us. Dad, how does it feel to see your son do so much for other people outside of himself. I'm proud of him, man. He is a remarkable young man. And the drive and the goal that he has to save other people is what we head for but we want to save him also. Without a doubt. I know, you know, being if philly in the house with that family have you that saquon Jersey, I wanted to give you one of my old Jerseys, man. Juwan, that's from me to you. You are the man, my friend and we'll be praying and rooting for you. For more information on becoming a donor, check out Make sure you do that.

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