New York (TheGrio)– Lion King star Shannon Tavarez lost her life and her battle against leukemia last Monday, and will be laid to rest today. Despite her efforts — and those of leukemia patients before her — to increase the number of donors of African descent, there remains a large disparity for African-American cancer patients who cannot find the bone marrow matches that could save their lives.
The disparity is not simply a problem with the number of donors. There were nearly 600,000 African-Americans listed on the Be The Match Registry in 2009 according to the National Marrow Donor Registry. Tavarez’ efforts, along with endorsements from her Lion King co-stars and other celebrities, garnered an additional 10,000 newly registered donors.