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T-Boz Rallies to Increase Bone Marrow Donors in New PSA

Kevin Winter/American Idol 2011/Getty Images

TLC member Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins is using her star power to help those suffering from life threatening diseases. In honor of African American Bone Marrow Awareness month, T-Boz is lending her voice to a new PSA aimed at encouraging more African-Americans to sign on as donors with the non-profit organization Be the Match.

“Champions rise up, champions overcome,” she says in the video. “We need more champions in the African-American community, people to step up and donate marrow, it’s the key to taking on diseases like leukemia and sickle cell anemia.”

Signing donors up is a cause close to the 41-year-old, who was diagnosed with the blood disorder sickle-cell anemia as a child. Patients suffering from the disease are prone to illness because of the irregular red blood cells which occur due to mutation in the hemoglobin gene. It is estimated that 1 in 500 African-American babies are born with the disease. Bone marrow is needed to assist in the ailment because tissue, found in the interior of the bone, produces new blood cells.

Thousands of those suffering from sickle cell and leukemia are in need of marrow donations because many of their family members have been ruled out as matches, which is where Be The Match comes in. The organization links patients with donors giving them hope for a cure to their ailments.

In the past several years T-Boz has had her fair share of health issues. The Atlanta native revealed last year that she underwent surgery to have a grapefruit-sized tumor removed from her brain. She also serves as a spokesperson for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.

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