St. Louis Public Radio News
2:18 pm
Wed May 14, 2003

Rapper Nelly Launches Bone Marrow Campaign

St. Louis, MO – Rap music star and St. Louis native Nelly helped launch a campaign he hopes will increase the number of people on the national bone marrow registry.

Nelly's sister Jackie Donahue suffers from leukemia, and has been in need of a bone marrow transplant for two years.

The rapper hopes to help his sister and thousands of others searching for donors.

"We just want the help from anybody out there, anybody that's looking that's watching, that's supporting, just to come out and help," Nelly said. "It won't take long. Trust me, I know what busy is, and this won't take long."

Dr. Jeffrey Chell, CEO of the National Marrow Donor Program, says it is more difficult for African Americans to find bone marrow matches.

"Nelly's appeal crosses all races, all cultures, in fact all generations," Chell said. "But today's focus is more so on African-Americans, because race does matter when you're looking for a match, and Jackie's need and the need of so many African-Americans is to have more African-Americans join the registry."

Chell says blacks have a 60-percent donor match rate while all other races average 80 percent. Nelly's charity will hold donor drives in St. Louis, New York and Los Angeles June 21.