UH degree: BBA in travel industry management ’90 Mānoa
Career: Program manager, Hawaiʻi Bone Marrow Donor Registry
Bone marrow recipient:: “Butch” Lane of Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Reward: “It’s inspiring to see patients wanting to help others in their situation and families supporting each other.”
Eighteen years ago, Renee Adaniya Chung heard the life-changing words: “You’re a match.” It was a little scary, but not a day goes by that she isn’t grateful she was chosen. She communicates regularly with the man who received her bone marrow and, with it, a second chance at life.
So when she bumped into the Hawaiʻi Bone Marrow Donor Registry manager on jury duty, she agreed to leave the hotel industry for a registry job and share her story with others. Fifteen years later she is program manager of the national Be the Match program’s Hawaiʻi affiliate, based in Hawaiʻi Medical Center East.
Nearly half the registry members contacted as a match decline. Chung understands their fear. She tries to overcome myths and concerns about donating, and she reminds people that Hawaiʻi’s members are vital in increasing the number of minority donors. It is hard not to develop a personal friendship with patients and their family and friends, she admits.
“It’s disappointing to not find a match for a patient in need, and it’s also hard to tell a donor that the recipient has passed away.” Even when a donation doesn’t work out, there is benefit in giving people hope, she says, and when it does: “It’s a special feeling to be chosen as a donor because you are the one person who could save their life. You can do something the doctors, medicine and treatments could not accomplish.”