Edmonds teen creates nonprofit to increase South Asian bone marrow donations

Edmonds resident Soren Ghorai (right) and a bone marrow registrant at Edmonds-Woodway High School last summer.

Edmonds resident Soren Ghorai started the nonprofit South Asian Marrow Initiative (SAMI) to raise awareness of leukemia and other blood diseases among South Asian communities. The junior at Eastside Preparatory School in Kirkland hopes that more South Asians in all of Washington state will register as bone marrow donors.

Two years ago, Ghorai’s aunt donated bone marrow to a 1-year old child in California, who had leukemia. “She was able to save the baby’s life because her bone marrow had blood stem cells. [That] replaced the baby’s stem cells, and the baby lived,” Ghorai said.

His aunt’s action prompted Ghorai to start SAMI. The organization gathers registrations from donors of South Asian descent in the greater Seattle area, which includes people from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal and various island territories in the Indian Ocean.

Guests visit the South Asian Marrow Initiative booth at Edmonds-Woodway High School last summer.

With the help of Dr. Rafiyah Khan, CEO and co-founder of South Asian Marrow Association of Recruiters (SAMAR), the 16-year-old Ghorai was able to host four events last summer, including one at the Bellevue Cultural Center, the Jaya Hanuman Temple and the Rockstar DSP concert in Seattle.

“She (Khan) was super influential in getting me started,” Ghorai said. “She has dedicated her entire life to researching stem cell transplants.”

Rafiyah and her husband Moazzam Khan founded SAMAR in 1992 in Rego Park, New York. It was one of the earliest nonprofits dedicated to registering and finding matching bone marrow donors among South Asians in the U.S.

“I thought it would be super cool to help out with that because South Asians are underrepresented in the bone marrow donation and issue,” Ghorai said, pointing out that about 3% of registered donors in the U.S. are of South Asian descent. “It’s a lot harder for South Asian patients to find perfect matches.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.