Hard Knock Radio

Arson at The Way Christian Center and The Shortage of Stem Cell Donors of Color

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Davey D brings us audio from today’s press conference held at The Way Christian Center in Berkeley Ca. Less than 12 hours after The Way Christian Center placed a Black Lives Matter banner, someone set fire to several trash cans positioned at the back of the church. The act of arson, damaged a portion of the building (see photos below) and has created fear and anger in the community.

Later we speak with Jess Tom and Carol Gillespie about treatment for blood-related cancers, the shortage of stem cell donors of color and the need to improve the registries. Seventy percent of patients won’t have a match in their families and must find an unrelated donor. Patients are more likely to match donors who share the same ethnic background, but the lack of diversity on the Be The Match® national registry makes it difficult for patients to find one. The Asian American Donor Program (AADP, https://www.aadp.org), a nonprofit organization in Alameda, is urging individuals to register as a potential stem cell donor. Join the registry by texting AADP to 61474



Pastor Michael McBride (known as “Pastor Mike”) “The fire was an act of terror”, said Pastor Michael McBride, who leads the 48-year-old Way Christian Church.

Pastor Michael McBride is a native of San Francisco, CA. and has been active in ministry for almost 20 years. In June 2005, Pastor McBride launched a new ministry, The Way Christian Center in West Berkeley, where he presently serves as the Pastor.

Carol Gillespie, Executive Director, Asian American Donor Program

Carol Gillespie is one of the original members of the Board of Directors for the Asian American Donor Program (AADP) when it was founded in 1989.  She volunteered for AADP for 3 years before accepting the position as Project Administrator in 1992.  In 2002, Gillespie was selected as AADP’s Executive Director and is currently serving in that position.

Jess Tom, Chef, Author, and TV Guest

 Jess Tom is the sister of Andrew, who at 29 years old was living his dream and engaged to the love of his life. In May 2020 Andrew went to the doctor for swollen lymph nodes. A couple of days later, he was diagnosed with mixed phenotype acute leukemia (MPAL), a rare and aggressive form of leukemia.  MPAL accounts for only 2-5% of all leukemias. The only way he can beat the illness is with a stem cell transplant.

In order to have a stem cell transplant, first a stem cell match for Andrew must be found. No one in Andrew’s family is a match. As being a match is genetically based, Andrew’s stem cell match will most likely be someone who is Chinese. Chinese donors only make up 0.7% of the national donor registry, leaving him with only a 43% chance of finding a perfect match.

Jess Tom has been working with the Asian American Donor Program, a nonprofit organization, to encourage Chinese Americans to register as potential stem cell donors. She is a chef and winner of season 14 of Food Network Star. Jess Tom is a writer and food blogger living in Brooklyn.

She is the author of FOOD WHORE: A Novel of Dining & Deceit published by William Morrow/HarperCollins. The paperback edition was released in 2015. FOOD WHORE, Jess’ first novel, merges her love of food and fiction.

You can find Jess on stage, online and on television, appearing on the Food Network, Good Morning America, the Today Show, and more. She has worked on initiatives with food trucks, restaurants, hospitality startups, and citywide culinary programs.