Leukemia patient finds life-saving connections

When entrepreneur Amit Gupta was diagnosed with leukemia, he immediately tapped into his networks to try to find a matching bone marrow donor.


Lauren Rae Orsini


Published Oct 7, 2011   Updated Jun 3, 2021, 2:20 am CDT

Amit Gupta creates companies that connect people online. Now he’s hoping one of those connections will save his life.

Gupta, the founder of Photojojo, an online photography community and Jelly, a multi-city event that brings unlikely coworkers together, just announced on his Tumblr blog that he has Acute Leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant.

He’s hoping that by going public, he’ll beat the astronomical odds against him to find a donor.

The post in which Gupta revealed his plight was reblogged nearly 5,000 times.

“I was terrified. I packed a backpack full of clothes, went to the hospital as (my doctor) instructed, and had transfusions through the night to allow me to take a flight home at 7am the next day. I Googled acute leukemia as I lay in my hospital bed, learning that if it hadn’t been caught, I’d have died within weeks,” he wrote.

The entrepreneur’s friends, including those at Laughing Squid, knew about the bad news a week before his announcement. Editor Rusty Blazenhoff encouraged readers to send Gupta a get-well postcard. He also knows Gupta will need more than wishes. He’ll need donors.

So he, like others, asked people to register to become donors.

Gupta’s continuing treatment will include several months of chemotherapy, culminating with a bone marrow transplant. The donor must be South Asian, like Gupta, to match him genetically.

Ethnic minorities have an especially difficult time finding donor matches because there are fewer who sign up to become donors, according to the National Marrow Donor Program.

In fact, the odds that Gupta will find a donor are only 1 in 20,000, according to the American Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

Gupta and his supporters think they can beat those odds. Just as he connected millions of people with his social networks, he plans to harness the power of the social Web to meet his match.

In order to register, potential donors apply to one of the country’s marrow donor programs and administer a cheek swab to find out if they are a match.

Gupta’s friend, Tony Bacigalupo also is encouraging people of South Asian decent to take the test with a party and a Twitter hashtag, #brownbones.

“We’re going to destroy those odds,” Bacigalupo said on Tumblr. “By finding and registering as many people of South Asian descent as we possibly can.”

Share this article
*First Published: Oct 7, 2011, 4:47 pm CDT