If you are facing a life-threatening disease, finding a bone marrow match for donation may be life-saving, even a cure, but as we all know, people languish on lists waiting for matches and sometimes die before they ever find one. For people of mixed race, finding that match is so much harder, akin to finding a needle in a haystack.
Mixed Marrow is an organization that helps people find those elusive matches. It is dedicated to finding bone marrow and blood cell donors for patients of multiethnic descent. Before I watched this documentary, I didn’t understand that these matches tend to be found within one’s own race, and how limiting that can be for all kinds of people. Multi-ethnic backgrounds are the fastest-growing demographic, but the waiting lists aren’t keeping up, leaving multi-racial patients struggling to surmount complex genetics on top of everything else. It’s already tragically unlucky to be struck by a stupid disease, but to fail to find a match because you’re losing at a numbers game? That’s just unacceptable.
Mixed Match is a solid documentary by Vancouver filmmaker Jeff Chiba Stearns, one that blends medical research and personal stories that make sure we remember that this topic is literally life and death. Brave patients and families share their stories, some of triumph, some of heartbreak, to help educate us while also personalizing the urgency. Cute animation helps us break down some of the more challenging science. But nothing makes a sick kid okay. That’s never easy to watch, nor the helpless of desperate parents.
Mixed Match, more than just a documentary, is a call to action. The only way to achieve more happy stories of survival is to expand the donor registry. Race is part of medicine. Our genetics have something to do with our ancestry, and where we come from. And we’re all multi-racial, in way or another. Lots of us don’t even know all the combinations that may be forgotten within our lineage.
Mixed Match, while dealing with a serious subject, is very hopeful in its heart. There’s an answer here, and the film exuberantly charges us to be part of the solution.