In 2004, William G. “Bill” Pomeroy was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Working with a wonderful team of doctors at both Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, NY, and Dana-Farber in Boston, MA, Bill received a lifesaving stem cell transplant in 2005.
One year later, he was thrilled to speak with his stem cell donor over the phone, a 27-year-old gentleman from Texas. Bill developed a close friendship with his donor. His donor visited Bill in Syracuse twice, including as a guest of honor at Bill’s company’s 30th anniversary celebration. In May 2011, Bill was invited as a guest of honor at his donor’s wedding in Texas.
During his leukemia battle, Bill established the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, a private foundation with one of its main initiatives to help others facing a blood cancer diagnosis. Specifically, Bill learned that there is an urgent need to diversify the Be The Match bone marrow registry. A patient’s ethnic background plays a large role in human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing, which is used to match patients with donors for bone marrow or cord blood transplants. Since HLA types are inherited, the best chance of finding a suitable donor may be with someone of a similar racial or ethnic background. A smaller pool of potential donors makes it harder for people of color to find a suitable match.
Bill’s foundation works to help others conduct bone marrow drives in diverse communities. Since 2008, the William G. Pomeroy Foundation has helped organize hundreds of bone marrow drives and registered more than 26,000 people. These drives have produced at least 169 known bone marrow matches. And through our work with Be The Match, the Foundation has connected with many brave and inspiring people.