School Board member diagnosed with leukemia

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March 6, 2013
By: Dylan Thomas
Hussein Samatar speaking during a School Board meeting in the district's former headquarters building.
File photo
Dylan Thomas
Hussein Samatar undergoing chemotherapy

Hussein Samatar, the Minneapolis School Board member who was the first Somali-American to win elected office, is undergoing treatment for leukemia.

Samatar, who has also been weighing a bid for mayor, announced via email today he was diagnosed Dec. 4 with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The blood and bone marrow disease is the second most common form of leukemia in adults and often appears in middle age, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Samatar has undergone chemotherapy treatments since the diagnosis and will require a bone marrow transplant sometime “in the next couple of months,” he wrote in the email. Samatar added that his doctors at HealthPartners say he is “responding very well to the treatment” and that he has not missed a School Board meeting since his diagnosis.

Fleeing civil war in his East African homeland, Samatar arrived in Minnesota in 1994. He and his wife, Ubah Jama, have four children ranging in age from 2 to 17 years old.

“I have every intention of being here a long time for them in the future,” he wrote.

Samatar is the founder and executive director of the Minneapolis-based African Development Center, a nonprofit serving the local African immigrant community. He did not immediately respond to a voicemail left just after noon.