Teacher awaiting donor finds life lessons in her disorder


It’s been ages since 27-year-old Shaunise Robinson has had a “good hair day.” But then, she’s got more important things on her mind — like living to see her 3-year-old son grow up.

The third-grade teacher with a sunny disposition began experiencing unexplained hair loss (alopecia) years ago. After multiple doctor visits, the cause remained a mystery.

That changed last year, when she realized something was seriously wrong — and her doctor confirmed it.

Her low platelet count meant a trip to the ER, and then to Medical City Dallas Hospital, where she was finally diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia in November 2016.

It’s a rare disease in which the bone marrow does not make enough blood cells for the body. A blood or marrow transplant can offer the best route to a cure.

“When I heard the diagnosis, I never felt really stressed or sad about it,” says Shaunise. “Everything happens for a reason. I am grateful to be able to tell people about this and raise awareness.”

This inspiring teacher can find an uplifting lesson even in her own personal hardship.

Shaunise wants more people in the African American community to know how badly they are needed as marrow donors. People are more likely to match donors who share their ethnic background, and there aren’t enough African American volunteer donors on the Be The Match Registry®. Donors between the ages of 18-44 are especially needed.

This February, volunteering to become a marrow donor could be one of the most meaningful ways you could honor Black History Month. All it takes is a cheek swab — and then the commitment to follow through if you are someone’s match.

Like too many other African American patients whose lives are on hold, Shaunise is still waiting for a matching donor. Meanwhile, she’s endured many blood transfusions and had to put her teaching on hold temporarily.

But she’s still on track to graduate from her doctoral program in education at Texas A&M this summer — with a 4.0 GPA, no less. And she’s got plenty of encouragement from family, including her wonderfully supportive father. He’s a Dallas police officer who’s working to increase community support through donor registry drives.

For those who are thinking of joining the Be The Match Registry, Shaunise said, the most important thing is to be a committed donor.

“If you join, please be serious about it — you don’t know who you are saving, but you are saving a life,” she said. “It could be a mother, a father, a sister or a brother. You could be that one person.”

You could even be saving Shaunise.

Visit join.BeTheMatch.org/BlackHistory to join the registry — and celebrate Black History Month by giving more African Americans the promise of a future.

Already on the Be The Match Registry? Help raise awareness about the need for more African Americans to join the registry by joining Be The Match’s Thunderclap at https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/53122-black-marrow-donors-needed.

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