A new documentary that was filmed in Beaverton and at Oregon Health & Science University's Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland will premiere this Wednesday at the Northwest Film Center in downtown Portland.
"Mixed Match" tells the story of local couple Todd and Lenore Thawley, and their son Hunter's fatal bout with AML Leukemia in 2010. Because Hunter was of mixed race, the family was not able to find a bone marrow donor that matched his complex multiethnic background.
The documentary shows the challenges that the Thawleys and other mixed-race people face when in need or a bone marrow or stem cell transplant, and calls for more multiethnic people to register as donors. According to the film, the majority of registered donors are Caucasian.
"The difficulty of finding a bone marrow donor is a worldwide issue that affects tens of thousands of people a year, and each of us has the ability to help," said producer and director Jeff Chiba Stearns. "Few people know about this topic and I wanted to clear up misconceptions and encourage more minorities and multiethnic people to help increase patients' odds of finding a match by becoming bone marrow donors and donating to umbilical cord stem cell banks."
Stearns and the Thawleys will attend the Northwest Film Center premiere, and participate in a Q&A session following the film. They will be joined by Eneida Nemecek, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at OHSU and the co-director of the Northwest Marrow Transplant Program at OHSU. Nemecek also is featured in "Mixed Match."
"My work focuses on my multiracial identity, and this subject is an important topic as we see multiethnic people becoming the fastest growing demographic in North America," said Stearns, who is of Japanese, English, Scottish, Russian, and German ancestry. "Some people may not even be aware they have mixed heritage until they, or someone they know, needs a transplant themselves."
Stearns said he hopes viewers will be inspired to register as a donor, and ask their loved ones to do the same.
"This is an opportunity to help save someone's life who is battling cancer," he said. "This is a curative treatment for cancer that exists right now and, in this day and age, every patient should have the opportunity to find their perfect match."
IF you go
"Mixed Match" premieres 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 19 at Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 S.W. Park Ave., Portland.
Tickets are $6-$9. Buy tickets and learn more at https://nwfilm.org/films/mixed-match.