COLUMBUS, Ga., Dec. 15 Hundreds of Aflac agents andemployees will be queuing up in the next few days to have their cheeks swabbedas part of a new company initiative to boost the rolls of the National MarrowDonor Program. Aflac's Bone Marrow program kicks off at the company's annualnational sales conference on December 12 in Atlanta.
The bone marrow registration effort was inspired by Steve Karas, an Aflacregional sales coordinator in Boston, whose stem cell donation recently helpedsave the life of Matthew Welling, a young Aflac claimant in New York.Matthew's parents had been told that without a transplant, he stood littlechance of living beyond childhood. Matthew's doctors searched the NationalBone Marrow registry for a donor and found Steve Karas.
"Through Steve's story we learned more about the pressing need for bonemarrow registrants and wanted to do something as an organization to help,"said Paul Amos, president and chief operating officer of the Georgia-basedinsurance company.
Indeed, the need is great. Individuals with life-threatening diseasessuch as leukemia and lymphoma must find a donor whose tissue type matchestheir own. Ideal candidates for a match are usually from the same ethnicbackground and race. The National Marrow Donor Program has about 11 millionregistrants today, but 61 percent of patients who need a bone marrowtransplant do not receive one. And that's just among Caucasians. Among otherracial groups, the match rate is far lower. For instance, about 83 percent ofAfrican Americans in need of a transplant do not receive one because AfricanAmericans are severely underrepresented on the donor registry. Individualsfrom racially or ethnically diverse heritage represent only 26 percent of theentire donor registry.
"On a daily basis, about 6,000 people search the registry looking for alife-saving match," said Dr. William G. Woods, director of the Aflac CancerCenter and Blood Disorders Service of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta."Increasing the pool of registrants increases the likelihood of a match, andwill save lives."
For more than 50 years, Aflac products have given policyholders theopportunity to direct cash where it is needed most when a life-interruptingmedical event causes financial challenges. Aflac is the number one provider ofguaranteed-renewable insurance in the United States and the number oneinsurance company in terms of individual insurance policies in force in Japan.Our insurance products provide protection to more than 40 million peopleworldwide. Aflac has been included in Fortune magazine's listing of America'sMost Admired Companies for seven years and in Fortune magazine's list of the100 Best Companies to Work For in America for ten consecutive years. Aflac hasalso been recognized three times by both Fortune magazine's listing of the Top50 Employers for Minorities and Working Mother magazine's listing of the 100Best Companies for Working Mothers. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To findout more about Aflac, visit www.aflac.com .
About the National Marrow Donor Program:
The NMDP facilitates unrelated marrow and cord blood transplants as asingle point of access for a long-standing collaborative network of nationaland international leading medical facilities in marrow and cord bloodtransplantation. The NMDP connects patients, doctors, donors and researchersto the resources they need to help more people live longer and healthierlives. For more information call 1 (800) MARROW-2 or visit www.marrow.org .Join online at www.marrow.org/join .(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081215/CLM027 ) (Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20041202/CLTH019LOGO ) Media Contacts: Analyst and Investment Contact: Laura Kane Kenneth S. Janke Jr. Aflac Incorporated Aflac Incorporated 706.596.3493 1.800.235.2667, Option 3; Fax: 706.324.6330 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Jon A. Sullivan Aflac Incorporated 706.596.3493 email@example.com