Meet 4-year-old Devan Tatlow and his mother, Indira Lakshmanan. He has high-risk Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia, or APL, a rare form of myeloid leukemia, and he needs a bone marrow transplant in about nine weeks. Devan, though, is one-quarter South Asian and three-quarters Caucasian. Of the 8 million people listed in the National Marrow Donor Program’s, only 250,000 — or about 3 percent — are mixed-raced.
“This is a growing challenge that we face as the world expands and there are more mixed-race kids,” said San Francisco surgeon Willis Navarro, who is medical director of transplant services for the National Marrow Donor Program. Navarro understands the problem firsthand: His father is Mexican American and his mother’s ancestry is Northern European. In 2000, nearly 7 million Americans said they were multiracial; according to census projections, that number has increased by about 25 percent.