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My husband, Justin, and I have experienced a loss most parents could not imagine. Our boys, Matthew and Andrew, were both diagnosed with a rare immune deficiency called Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). After four blood stem cell transplants between them, we lost our sons. I am committed to helping other families avoid such heartbreak and advocate for life-saving cellular therapy programs to improve access to curative transplants for individuals diagnosed with blood cancers or other blood disorders. I applaud Sen. Roy Blunt for ensuring adequate funding for the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program in 2020, which the National Marrow Donor Program Be The Match is entrusted to operate.

Be The Match works to save lives through cellular therapy by acquiring matching bone marrow and cord blood cells, providing support services and enabling patients to reach transplant. Since it was created, Be The Match has grown its registry to more than 19 million donors and nearly 250,000 cord blood units. In Missouri alone, 667 patients received a blood stem cell transplant between 2013 and 2018.

In his leadership role in the appropriations subcommittee on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, Sen. Blunt is leading efforts to ensure funding levels for the program are authorized to the full $30 million level set by Congress. By fully funding the program in the 2020 health appropriations bill, Be The Match will be able to break down barriers to timely transplant, meet the needs of underserved populations, enable more patients to access optimal treatments and advance innovations to improve outcomes.

As a mother committed to honoring the memory of my boys I am dedicated in helping all people in need of a stem cell transplant to receive the life-saving treatment they need. Thank you, Sen. Blunt for your continued support.

Kristin Akin • Chesterfield