Odd Amazon delivery leads to surprise meeting and a first-ever GenCure marrow registry drive at San Marcos center

An accidental addition to shipment led to a connection between Amazon employee and customer, and eventually to a three-day GenCure marrow donor registration drive at the San Marcos distribution center

San Antonio, Texas, UNITED STATES


San Antonio, April 06, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- GenCure, a subsidiary of BioBridge Global, helped facilitate the meeting of an Amazon shopper and an Amazon employee who had a rather strange introduction. A random addition to an Amazon package led to the pair meeting and also led to a first-of-its-kind event at the online company’s facility in San Marcos – a marrow donor registry drive.

The drive by the GenCure Marrow Donor Program was organized by Amazon employee Kenneth Delerme, who accidentally dropped his keys and his Amazon ID card in a shipment to Nicole Shen in Houston earlier this year. Once Shen discovered the keys, she used her extensive social media network to find Delerme and return his keys and badge.

Shen uses the online ordering system extensively, since her 3-year-old son Roman has a rare condition called Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome. Among the many problems associated with the condition is a weak immune system, which means Shen doesn’t take Roman out when she goes shopping to avoid exposure to illness.

Once Nicole returned Kenny’s keys, the newly formed bond didn’t end.

“Within minutes of us connecting, and me telling him, ‘I have your keys’, he said, ‘How can I help your son?’” Nicole said. “Every single day for two months he’s advocated for us. He’s had hundreds, and hundreds and hundreds of people around the world swab for my son, and other people like my son that need bone marrow matches.”

After Kenny and Nicole connected, he read all the messages generated on social media and thought, “What does ‘swab’ mean?” After reading more about Roman, he sent Nicole a message stating, “You know, I’m going to do it – I’m going to swab,” Kenny said.

Part of the treatment for the condition is a bone marrow transplant from a matching donor. So in thanks for Shen’s efforts, Delerme signed up for the bone marrow donor registry – and then helped organize the first-ever marrow donor registration event at Amazon.

As a surprise thank-you for his efforts, the Shen family traveled to San Marcos to personally thank him during the three-day marrow registration event. Signing up as many potential donors as possible is critical, since matches for the process are genetic. Mixed-race patients like Roman have a difficult time finding a match, which is why the need for new registrations is critical.

Getting the surprise meeting coordinated took a lot of hard work and coordination between the Shens, Kenny’s schedule, GenCure and Amazon. Nicole worked with all entities and thanks the extra efforts by Amazon management, human resources and public relations. In addition, Nicole said, “My son sees 12 doctors so we’re very busy with his schedule, but I had to meet Kenny. Two months have gone by and I said, ‘enough’, we need to come up here. This was a perfect opportunity to surprise him because I knew he wouldn’t be expecting us,” Nicole said.

For anyone still thinking about joining the registry, Nicole said, “Do it. Finally, do it, do it – it takes ten minutes. You can help save my son’s life, or anyone like him. We all say, ‘oh, I wish I could cure leukemia’, or ‘I wish I could cure cancer’ – you can. You can help, the medicine is in you, it’s so easy,” Nicole said.

Joining the registry is simply a matter of taking two cheek swabs and filling out a form.

More information is available at the GenCure website.

About GenCure: GenCure, a subsidiary of BioBridge Global, is a not-for-profit organization focused on enabling the development of cell- and tissue-based therapies by providing access to source materials, cGMP manufacturing experience and clinical research support. GenCure focuses on regenerative medicine, oncology, orthopedics and dental support through a cord blood bank, a National Marrow Donor Program apheresis center and a posthumous donor tissue bank. Learn more at GenCure.org.

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Left to right, Nicole Shen, Kenneth Delerme and Carrie Windham, following the surprise meeting at the Amazon distribution center in San Marcos, Texas, on April 4, 2018. Windham's son, Rowan, suffered from the same rare condition as Roman Shen. One of Rowan's last wishes before his death was for Roman to find a marrow donor match. Left to right, Peter Shen holds Roman and visits with Carrie Windham, Kenneth Delerme and Nicole Shen, following the surprise meeting at the Amazon distribution center in San Marcos, Texas, on April 4, 2018.

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