Doctors' Notes

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Star Raises Bone Marrow Awareness

Welcome to Doctors’ Notes, our newest contribution from Urban Health correspondents (and husband and wife) physicians Dr. Rob and Dr. Karla Robinson.  The dynamic duo will be fielding questions about health as it relates to African Americans.  Please feel free to send them questions via digitalpitches@ebony.comWe promise to keep it anonymous. 


James Pickens, Jr., also known as the noble and knowledgeable Dr. Webber on the hit show “Grey’s Anatomy,” is no stranger to displaying compassion at the fictional Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.  But what many don’t realize is that the actor is a true humanitarian at heart, and is now raising awareness about a very important health issue affecting many in our community-bone marrow donation.

Inspired by a storyline on “Grey’s Anatomy” in which a child needed a bone marrow transplant to survive, Pickens felt led to join the cause in aiding others to find a potentially life-saving match.  As a result, in honor of National African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month, Pickens has teamed up with Delete Blood Cancer DKMS to create a PSA aimed at spreading the word about the urgent need for African-American donors on the bone marrow registry list.

The PSA features Zahara Weeks, a 5-year-old currently battling sickle cell anemia.  “I will admit, I knew little about bone marrow donation before filming the PSA,” says Pickens. “After meeting Zahara and her family, I was determined to learn more and encourage others to educate themselves as well.”

Although our community continues to be disproportionately affected by many illnesses such as sickle cell disease, where the only hope for a possible cure is a bone marrow transplant, statistics show that only 7 percent of those on the bone marrow donor registry list are African-American.  Unfortunately, this means that 1 in 3 African-Americans won’t be able to find a potentially life-saving match on the registry.

Most people don’t know just how easy it is to register as a potential donor.  The process only takes a few minutes and consists of swabbing the inside of the mouth and completing a registration form to be added to the database.  It’s simple, painless, and quick to give someone like Zahara the opportunity to have a second chance at life.

Despite her young age, Zahara has already begun inspiring others like Pickens to join the fight against sickle cell anemia and other blood cancers in hopes of finding a cure.  In addition to raising awareness about the need for minority donations, you too can help the campaign by joining the bone marrow registry and potentially become a lifesaving match for a patient in need.

For more information or to register online, visit

It’s a health thing…we’ve got to understand!

About the Doctors: Dr. Karla and Dr. Rob are the founders of Urban Housecall, a multimedia health and wellness resource, and also hosts of the Urban Housecall Radio Show.  For more from the doctors, visit their website at, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter @urbanhousecall!