Tom Brady, Sean Payton support agent's cause, make plea for marrow donors

METAIRIE, La. -- Despite his high-profile client list, Don Yee is about as low-profile as it gets for a sports agent. And he said it's basically a policy for him not to bring anything going on in his personal life into his professional life.

So when Yee reached out to let clients like Tom Brady and Sean Payton know of a cause that was close to his heart, they jumped at the chance to chip in.

Brady and Payton took to social media to share the story of Krissy Kobata, a young woman whose family Yee has known since he coached her brother in little league.

Kobata was diagnosed in 2008 with MDS (Myelodysplastic Syndromes), a disease that prevents bone marrow from producing enough healthy blood cells and typically requires a bone marrow transplant. However, since Kobata is of mixed race (Japanese and Caucasian), donor matches are much harder to come by.

Kobata will finally get a transplant next month thanks to a new treatment that will allow her brother to be a donor, even though he is not a full match. But she and family and friends such as Yee have been on a mission to raise awareness that people of mixed race are needed on the national donor registry.

"It's very gratifying," Yee said of Brady's and Payton's willingness to spread the word. "And really the reason you go into this type of business is because you get to develop relationships.

"This was an important issue when you have a friend fighting for their life, and so you try to do whatever you can to help them. So it means the world to me that people like Tom and Sean would not even hesitate to help someone that they don't even know."

According to the organization Be The Match, which is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program, only 4 percent of registered potential donors are of mixed race. While Caucasians have a 93 percent chance of finding a match, the percentage is much, much lower for those of mixed race.

Mary Halet, a director at Be The Match, said the organization saw a noticeable spike in people registering after celebrities like Brady, Payton, boxer Manny Pacquiao and actress Chloe Bennet spread the word on social media last month. She estimated that 80 registrations came in specifically on Kobata's behalf in less than a week.

"We were floored [by the pleas from Brady and Payton]. It caught us all by surprise. And so honored that people pick up the story, because when they do that, then the general public pays attention a little bit more closely and recognizes that this is a real problem," Halet said. "That there are people that are truly dependent upon the generosity of strangers to live. And when someone like Tom Brady says to his followers, 'Hey. this young woman needs help, and we need to get involved,' it's hugely valuable. And Sean Payton, too. We really, really appreciate it."

Payton said he noticed some feedback on his Twitter account from people saying they planned to register.

"It was pretty amazing," said Payton, whose New Orleans Saints host the Brady-led New England Patriots on Sunday. The coach said it's gratifying to know he could make a difference. "And this one was unique, because it's literally like there's a clock ticking, and you're trying to help someone live."