Chinese-Canadians respond to stem-cell call

The number of Chinese-Canadians registered as potential stem cell donors has risen 75 per cent after simultaneous one-day events in Vancouver and Toronto this past weekend.

“We made history. It was the largest one-day stem cell drive event we’ve ever had,” said Sue Smith, executive director of the Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network.

The drive, held Saturday at Richmond’s Aberdeen Centre, and in Toronto, saw a total of 4,025 people lined up to get the inside of their cheeks swabbed so cells containing DNA could be collected, typed and entered into a national registry.

Stem cell transplants are used to treat — and even cure — those suffering from blood cancers and other disorders involving benign or malignant conditions.

Chinese-Canadians make up only two per cent of the Canadian registry of unrelated stem cell donors while Caucasians make up 82 per cent. That means that it could be almost impossible to find a donor when a Chinese patient needs one since the best chance of finding a match is within a patient’s own ethnic group. First nations, South Asian and Southeast Asians are also poorly represented in the national and international registries.

Smith credited media coverage and volunteers in community groups for the success of the one-day campaign, which boosted the registry of Chinese donors by 75 per cent. In Vancouver, 1,900 individuals were registered during the event and in Toronto, 2,100 people were added. Said Madellina Lau, co-chair of the Vancouver event and mother of a woman who died last year from leukemia (before a stem cell transplant): “It is so heartwarming to see how much our fellow Chinese-Canadians care for Chinese patients searching for stem cell donors.”

Smith said the Vancouver turnout far exceeded expectations. And now the blood service hopes other ethnic community groups will match the success of Chinese organizations. “We’re working on partnerships with other community groups like South Asians for Life, the Health Association of African Canadians, Aboriginal Nurses of Canada, Filipino and many other ethnocultures,” she said.

Dr. Clay Smith, director of the Leukemia/ Bone Marrow Transplant program of British Columbia and chair of the Tumour Group Council of the BC Cancer Agency, said all the efforts are critically important to patients.

“Frankly, there is a need for representation for all ethnic groups other than those who are descended from European background where donor representation is now pretty good.” There are more than 14 million registered adult volunteer donors in [about] 69 donor registries around the world.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Fairchild TV interview of Mama

Watch Mama tell you why it is very urgent for us all to become a registered stem cell donor. (Cantonese)

New Year. New Home. New Hope.

New Year.

The original plan was for my Uncle Lawrence from Vancouver to spend a month in Baltimore to help Mom out before and after the transplant.  When things fell through and we had to return to Toronto, my dear Uncle insisted on spending the month in Toronto anyway to help out and spend Christmas and New Year’s with Mom and I.

It may be mundane at times – three adults with no particular daily schedule except to Princess Margaret Hospital for check ups every other day, but it was sweet and it was precious family time that I’ll always be able to look back at to marvel over the love they have for me. 

We had people over for Chinese hot-pot on Christmas night, and the three of us rung in 2009 with Maria and Tony (West Side Story) on TV.

In the first week of the New Year (a week or so before Uncle Lawrence’s scheduled return to Vancouver), there was still no concrete next step on the horizon – we were waiting for OHIP’s response to our re-application for funding a different procedure at a different hospital in the States.  Assuming that it would take more than a few weeks to hear back from OHIP, and with Chinese New Year around the corner on Jan 26th, we started wondering:  Is it realistic for Mom and I to fly to Vancouver to ring in the Year of the Ox?

New Home.

Very few hospitals in North America offer Haplo-transplant for patients in remission, and even fewer would do it for someone who is not.  Fred Hutchison in Seattle is one of the few who has a protocol for not-in-remission Haplo-transplant, but their program can only take a couple of patients at a time and could not take me right away.  City of Hope in L.A. is the other possible treatment centre, but my blast cells are up to 40% and are now in the peripheral blood, so there is a chance that I may not be eligible for the protocol.  There were a lot of unknowns.  It seemed that it would be mostly waiting for answers in the immediate months, and should I get lucky with either hospital, they are both out West anyway.

So we started wondering again:  If  Mom and I were to just go for regular check ups twice a week while we waited for “The Plan” to materialize, can we do that in Vancouver with family and relatives around to help out?

On Monday Jan 5, 2009, I shared our thoughts about Vancouver with my Hematologist.  By the following Monday, with the help of Uncle Lawrence, we packed up my entire apartment for storage.  And by Tuesday Jan 13, the three of us were on the plane West bound.

The day after our arrival I made my first visit to the Hemotology Daycare Unit at Vancouver General Hospital who was monitoring my blood levels and physical condition thewhile we waited in Vancouver.  Unfortunately for me, I soon developed a fever due to an infection at my Hickman line site, so the line was removed right away and I spent everyday of the first two weeks in Vancouver between the hospital for anti-biotics and home in bed.

On Jan 26th, with the help of a combination of painkillers and the strength of the Ox, I made it out to Chinese New Year/ my dear friend Susana’s B-day dinner with a huge smile and a bigger appetite!


New Hope.

When we left Toronto on Jan 13,  I left believing that being closer to family and relatives both physically and mentally were what Mom and I really needed, in order to continue down this in this uncertain journey.  Even though I did not know when or whether things will turn out for the better or worse, I trusted that whatever is supposed to happen will happen.

On Wednesday Jan 28th, I went to my new Hematologist at VGH for a post-infection check up.  Afterwards, he told me that VGH has had considerable success with mismatched cord blood transplant.  ‘Mismatched’ means the donor’s stem cells does not match all of the recipient’s antigens, which you have to match 6 for cord blood transplant and 10 for unrelated donor transplant.

Then completely unexpectedly, he told me that they have identified a couple of 4 out of 6 antigen-matched cord blood units for me!!!!  Although first I have to go through a round of chemo to try and put my leukemia back in remission, and if all goes well, then we hope to proceed with a transplant this Spring!

Cord blood transplant, like haplo transplant, is relatively new compared to unrelated donor matched transplant.  There are certainly different opinions about about their long term success rate.  But I right now, I am starting to feel like there may be hope again (which trust me was hard to dig up after coming home from Johns Hopkins).  Not to mention of all places, Vancouver is The Ideal location I want to have the transplant being closer to family and relatives.

It’s been a week since I’ve been at the hospital for my re-induction chemo, and is expected to stay approximately 1 month.  Hopefully, it will successfully bring me into remission, so that I will be eligible for transplant in the Spring!

Miss you Toronto!

And thanks for taking me in Vancouver!



Click here for your local Registry’s link and REGISTER TODAY to help Carolyn and Others.

Support my friend Heather’s run with the Leukemia Society

Please Sponsor Heather Lloyd

Click here to access her Pledge Page for an online donation

Event Date:

Carolyn returns to Toronto – 家宜暫返多倫多




原定於今天(12月20日)在美國巴爾的摩(Baltimore)John Hopkins醫院,接受弟弟骨髓的血癌患者譚家誼,因為身體狀況不適宜進行移植,最後需要折返多倫多,目前仍未知下一步有什麼選擇。


過去兩周我們在John Hopkins做了數個移植前的檢查和測試,他們發現我的骨髓內仍然有癌細胞的跡象,加上我的Blood Level不斷下降,令我不能進行Non-myeloablative Haplo Transplant。




………it is important to me that the next report is not just an update on my situation, but to remind the public again, that marrow transplant is limited within one’s ethnic group, and I hope that people will not just read our story but support all Asian leukemia patients, now and in the future, by Taking Action and registering to be a marrow donor right away.
We spent the past 2 weeks at Johns Hopkins doing various pre-transplant testings, through which they found traces of leukemia cells in my marrow, plus my blood levels have been dropping consistently, which rendered me ineligible for the Non-myeloablative Haplo Transplant. 
At this point, we really don’t know what the next steps are – Do I need more chemo? Has my heart become too weak for standard Myeloablative Haplo Transplant?  Will OHIP still cover me if another hospital in the States would take my case?

There are a lot of unknowns right now, although my family and I are very touched by all the well wishes we have received and will continue to draw strength from the support from the community. 



Thank you and Take care,


Click here for your local Registry’s link and REGISTER TODAY to help Carolyn and Others.

Carolyn’s transplant cancelled – 譚家宜移植骨髓夢碎

<明報專訊> 兩周前赴美國巴爾的摩Johns Hopkins醫院,準備接受骨髓移植手術的華裔血癌患者譚家宜(圖),出發前滿懷重拾健康的希望,不料檢查結果發現體內仍存在癌細胞,最終無法進行手術的她,於上周六返回多倫多的家中。




「過去兩周,我們在Johns Hopkins醫院進行了各種骨髓移植的前期檢查,檢查發現體內仍然存在癌細胞,表明我不符合做骨髓移植手術的條件。」


“It is important to me that the next report is not just an update on my situation, but to remind the public again, that marrow transplant is limited within one’s ethnic group, and I hope that people will not just read our story but support all Asian leukemia patients, now and in the future, by Taking Action and registering to be a marrow donor right away.
We spent the past 2 weeks at Johns Hopkins doing various pre-transplant testings, through which they found traces of leukemia cells in my marrow, plus my blood levels have been dropping consistently, which rendered me ineligible for the Non-myeloablative Haplo Transplant.
At this point, we really don’t know what the next steps are – Do I need more chemo? Has my heart become too weak for standard Myeloablative Haplo Transplant?  Will OHIP still cover me if another hospital in the States would take my case?

There are a lot of unknowns right now, although my family and I are very touched by all the well wishes we have received and will continue to draw strength from the support from the community.”

譚家宜於11月29日在母親和友人的陪同下赴美國巴爾的摩Johns Hopkins醫院,準備在明日接受弟弟的骨髓移植,雖然弟弟與她的骨髓配對率只有五成,但院方將配以藥物等技術來提高配對成功率,該院進行這類手術的平均成功率達八成半,去年更達97%。而Johns Hopkins醫學院及醫院在美國都是首屈一指的。

Click here for your local Registry’s link and REGISTER TODAY to help Carolyn and Others.

Carolyn off to US for transplant – 家宜赴美求醫




當你閱讀這篇訪問時,多倫多血癌患者譚家宜(Carolyn)已經和家人身在美國巴爾的摩(Baltimore),準備12月20日,在John Hopkins醫院接受弟弟的骨髓移植。去年這種移植手術在同一所醫院的成功率達97%,但家宜仍需留院觀察3個月,最壞的情況便是出現排斥,家宜便會內臟衰竭。
但在John Hopkins醫院進行移植前,家宜亦要再做五日化療和一日電療,確保體內沒有癌細胞。「所以這幾個月『有得食好食』,因為做完(化療及電療)多數會發燒、感染,一定有段時間無胃口。」



「對上一次(化療)是九月中,現在精神好了些,但感覺到身體比以前弱了。如果一天找不到合適的骨髓作移植,根據醫生的意見,血癌是永遠有機會復發,就如計時炸彈,所以美國此行是冇得選擇的。但我在Princess Margaret醫院的主診醫生幫我爭取到OHIP的資助,因為在加拿大做不到同類型手術。不過其實這不算手術,因為毋須開刀。」

John Hopkins醫院自2003年開始為血癌病人做這種幹細胞或骨髓移植,平均成功率達八成半,去年更達97%。「弟弟的和我的骨髓配對率雖然只有五成,但院方會配以藥物等技術來提高成功率。不過移植後三個月都需要留院觀察,因為如果有排斥通常會很快便出現,最壞的情況是我的內臟器官不接受弟弟的幹細胞,那時我便可能因腎或肝衰竭而死。」


「例如早前落John Hopkins做檢查,有個好朋友,Susanna專程從溫哥華飛過來陪我和媽咪一起駕車落去,驚我駕車太久太累。當然最多謝我的媽媽和弟弟,但亦有很多auntie、uncle,甚至我媽咪早前去超市買肉,都有職員向她問起我的情況。另外,One Match(加拿大的幹細胞及骨髓資料庫)現在終於有中文版,亦多得王裕佳醫生的據理力爭,這將不止幫助我一個,亦會幫助到更多其他有需要的病人。」


原來巴爾的摩因為有John Hopkins這所名醫院,不少人前來求診,所以短期租屋的市場亦坐地起價,完全無價講,家宜她們在那裏租一個已裝修的柏文四個月便需要$16000(加幣)。

「如果發燒或感染,需要買藥物,例如抗生素,OHIP亦唔包,而我每次做完化療都會有這些情況出現,因為白血球會降到零,抵抗力全無,所以難以估計這方面的開支。如果在多倫多買那些藥,大約每個月$7000。說實話,現在我張張信用卡已『碌爆』。」由於治病所費不輕,所以 網頁最近都增加了一個捐款欄。

「可能不少人都會覺得我好慘,但我經歷過這麼多別人的關心,相信很多人亦沒有機會經歷,我已經覺得很幸福。而且在4月之後,不少教會亦致電給我們,說會為我們祈禱,亦有朋友帶我們去佛堂。6月的募捐亦籌得25萬,One Match亦多了3000多個樣本,這些事情都令我十分感動。」

Click here for your local Registry’s link and REGISTER TODAY to help Carolyn and Others.

Update: It’s time for Plan B

Before I give you my update, I want to send our love to the family and friends of Emru Townsend and Hector Arenas.  These guys were amazing individuals and fought an incredible fight and they will forever be in my heart.

I want to congratulate Graham Barnell and his family on returning home to Melbourne after months in Seattle for a double cord blood transplant.  Graham and his wife, Samantha, are paying for the treatment ($500,000+ USD) out of their own pockets and I appeal to all of you to pleeeeease help support this family’s brave journey to save Graham’s life by donating towards their medical fund.

I want to cheer on Michelle Maykin and her husband Van, who are away from home for a double-cord transplant in Seattle’s Fred Hutchison. Michelle’s incredible strength and positive attitude have been always been a source of inspiration and reminder for me to stay strong each time I feel like I couldn’t handle this anymore.  I wish for nothing but all of Michelle’s “I want’s” to come true as soon as possible!

Also a cheer to Dr.Guha and his family who are also away from home for an unrelated match transplant in California’s City of Hope.

As for me….

Me, my Mom and my childhood friend, Susana, from Vancouver just spent all last week in Baltimore, Maryland to meet with the transplant team at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

One appointment with one doctor, ended up being multiple appointments throughout the week with 2 different doctors, various coordinators, blood tests for me and Mom and having to find an apartment for when we go back Dec 1 to stay.

Aside from information overload, having to find an apartment within a few days, and notwithstanding the circumstance…..I am really glad I got to take this road trip with Susana and Mom – we also took a side trip to Washington DC.

Me and my whole family will be going back to Baltimore on Dec 1. My brother Patrick will be traveling back and forth between HK and Baltimore during the whole month of Dec, and my Mom and I will be staying there for 3 months.

The goal now is to have a Non-myeloablative Haplo-transplant before the Holidays – this is a transplant of Patrick’s stem cells since we did not find an unrelated donor match and Patrick is a confirmed 50% match.

Johns Hopkins has been doing this since 2003, and the chances of developing severe Graft-vs-Host-Disease is around 6% and the survival rate is 85%, although with my age I was told the odds are even better.

The flip side of this protocol is that the relapse rate is higher than traditional Myeloablative haplo-transplant.  However, they say as long as I don’t completely clash with Pat’s cells, we can do a Donor Lymphocyte Infusion (DLI) which is sort of a mini transplant if I relapsed and they have proven results that this subsequent infusion will get the job done

Although we didn’t end up finding a match for me, I still feel really lucky and blessed to have received the amount of support I did, and to have made a lot of new friends along the way.  I hope what we accomplished this past Summer is only the beginning, that you will join me and many others in continuing to spread the word about the dire need for new marrow donors within all ethnic communities, and I hope all our efforts will become that much needed silver lining for other leukemia patients in the future.


Click here for your local Registry’s link.

I will have internet access at the apartment in Baltimore, so do feel free to drop me a line via email, Facebook or this website, and I will post updates whenever possible.

Thank you all, and don’t worry, because I’m confident I will be home before you know it!

Nov 3 2008 is Canada’s National Stem Cell and Marrow Awareness Week

Of the 237,000 Canadians currently registered on the OneMatch Network, 83% are Caucasian and 17% are from Canada’s many diverse ethnic groups.

At any given time, OneMatch is searching for stem cell matches for about 600 Canadians. 40% of which are non-Caucasian.

Fewer than 30% of patients will find a compatible donor from a family member. The remaining 70% rely on the generosity of an unrelated donor.

Most patients are more likely to find a donor in their own ethnic group.

Upon receipt of your registration online (at or by mail (of completed forms downloaded from, a representative from OneMatch will be in touch by phone within 2 business days.

Samples are no longer collected through blood tests but with a buccal (cheek) swab kit mailed directly to your home with clear instructions and a return envelope.

Donor eligibility is between 17 to 50 years old


Hair for Hope at the University of Toronto Mississauga, Oct 7, 2008

University of Toronto Mississauga Student Union is hosting HAIR FOR HOPE 2008

We invite the UTM community to shave their heads or wax their legs to show support for those fighting cancer. To participate you need to find “sponsors” who will pay to have your head shaved or your legs waxed.
Through this symbolic gesture, we aim to:
-Tell every person with cancer and their families that they are not alone in the fight against cancer
-Raise funds to help educate minority groups with a multi-lingual information video
-Build a community of support for those with cancer
Why Shave Heads?
Patients’ hair loss, from treatments of cancer such as chemotherapy, is a representation of his or her courageous fight against cancer. Through the symbolic gesture of shaving heads, we hope to lend moral support to all those fighting cancer, and to let them know that there is nothing wrong with being bald.
This event is in support of the Elizabeth Lue Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation. All the proceeds will be used to produce a multi-lingual information video in partnership with OneMatch® and Canadian Blood Services®.
Anyone who wishes to participate in this event is welcome to pick up a pledge form during clubs week or at the UTMSU office, student centre room 100.

The Hair for Hope event will take place on Tuesday October 7th, 2008 from 12-2pm in the Blind Duck.

On September 19th at 12pm in the Student Centre Board Room, UTMSU will have an information/training session detailing the campaign for our volunteers who will sign out pledge forms for the head shave / leg wax as well as for anyone who is interested, and OneMatch® will present a lot of the facts and statistics.

OneMatch is also organizing a promotional event where people can sign up to be donors with them on Sept 19, this group will give their buccal swabs on Oct 7 during the event, and will donate blood as a group at the end of Oct during a local campus blood drive.

For more information, you can contact Saaliha Malik at or Fred Wong at
There will be RAFFLE PRIZES & FREE FOOD for participants.

 Click here to register online today at to become a stem cell donor



A Second Chance Annual Fundraising Dinner and Dance in Vancouver Oct 3, 2008


Fraserview Hall
8240 Fraser Street
Vancouver, BC


A Second Chance is an organization of volunteers that fundraises to raise money for blood cancer research. More importantly, our aim is to promote public awareness about blood cancers and stem cell donation within the South Asian Community.

The organization holds an annual dinner and dance, called “A Second Chance”, that consistently raises over $25,000. Money raised is donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada. Volunteers also raise money throughout the year by having a “Samosa Event” and “Carwash 4 Cancer”. The fundraiser has significantly grown over the past 4 years and has successfully educated and recruited many members of the community to become stem cell registrants.

With a lot of blood cancers, a stem cell transplant is required. Thanks to funded research, stem cell transplants can be done by simply taking blood from the arm — just like donating blood. It is NOT like donating an organ; blood replenishes within a few days! Currently there are only 2.2% East Indians on the registry. This means that if your sibling or other family member are not a match, your chances of surviving are less than 25%.

The organization welcomes anyone interested to join the group as volunteers or to attend the event and support the cause.

For more information you may contact:

Sonny Atwal: 604-644-4295

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk in Toronto October 2, 2008

SPONSOR MY FRIEND CHRIS’ PARTICIPATION at the Light the Night Walk in Toronto, October 2, 2008.

Light the Night is a fundraising event being held by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada. Their mission is to cure blood cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, along with improving the quality of life of patients and their families.

Every 38 minutes a Canadian is diagnosed with a blood cancer.

Every 79 minutes a Canadian dies from a blood cancer.

Online donations can be made at:

If YOU would like to participate in Light the Night 2008, please visit


Click here to register online today at to become a stem cell donor


Update: Three Times the Charm

Each time after being knocked out by chemo, the recovery really is like the Sun breaking through after a storm for me.  I know it’s cliche, but the least challenging physical ability that we completely take for granted suddenly become the most “ginormous” achievement.  Like the first time I feel awake enough to watch TV (instead of sleeping) in bed.  Eventually realizing that maybe it’s time to pull up the blinds during the day now that I am not in la-la land most of the time anymore.  Then feeling like my body might actually be strong enough to get me out of bed, onto the couch and sit up for an entire day.  Gradually, food starts to taste the way I remember them again.  Now I actually don’t grasp for air after a shower or from getting changed, and actually venture out of the house for a short, slow walk (but only when the Sun is not very strong).  Then as the Neutrophils rise (ie. immune system improves), there is that first meal out (but only when it’s not crowded since it is still important not to catch any bugs).  For me, the finishing line is when my Mom gave the stamp of approval for me to drive and go out on my own again – the sweet smell of Independence!

These past few weeks have been an amazing break.  I got to catch up with friends I haven’t seen for weeks.  There were barbeques in their backyards, lunches, dinners, afternoons walks – I felt like myself again, and often forgot that I am sick, which was much needed both for the body and the mind.  However, reality will once again set in next Monday as I start my 3rd round of chemo.

It was always my oncologist’s hope that we would have identified a match in July.  Then both the donor and recipient would have a few weeks to go through their respective medical preparations for the transplant.  In which case, instead of a 3rd chemo, we would be proceeding with a transplant instead next week.

However, life does not always turn out the way we planned, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not going to turn out at all.  So while I soldier on through my next chemo happy hour, please GET PEOPLE TO REGISTER – NOW

Our Spread the Word campaign has reached so far and wide that there are no words to describe my amazement, and I THANK YOU FOR ALL THAT YOU’VE DONE.

But before I ask you to spread the word and thankfully sign off, this time I am going to first ask you to take a minute and think about all the administration that has to happen from a donor getting registered, to samples taken, samples tested, data uploaded to the Registry, the match identified, the donor contacted and finally the donor going through and passing procedural check ups…….before a match can be confirmed. 

When you realize that from the moment you register to the moment someone gets that long awaited good news that they have a match, that it can actually take as much as a couple of months, and that there are MANY, MANY people like me all over the world who have to subject their bodies, and soul, through yet another round of chemo because a match has not been found – I urge you to please, not only spread the word, but GET PEOPLE TO REGISTER – NOW.

TOGETHER, WE CAN DO IT. Click here for your local Registry’s link.

Mama Urging For More New Registrant

Below is Mama, in Cantonese, pleading to Chinese from around the world to become a registered donor.



We are so so proud of her.

While she is no doubt enduring one of the toughest emotional and physical challenge of her life, she is also dealing with an unexpected PR challenge with poise and finesse.

Key points include:

  • We are getting all the media attention so far because we are lucky to have met very caring people in the past few months, not because we are anyone special.
  • Leukemia is not an incurable disease.  All we need is that ONE MATCH for Carolyn to survive.
  • I’m ashamed of myself to have known nothing about Leukemia before my daughter was diagnosed with it, and that I have missed the 18 to 60 years old window.
  • Chinese is under represented in the global database.
  • We have not yet found a match after searching the global database including China, Hong Kong,  Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan.
  • We need more new registrant urgently.
  • I have never felt so helpless before, watching my daughter fighting with disappointments day-after-day and coping with deteriorating health.
  • I plead to you all to become a registered donor, to help Carolyn, and anyone else in need.
  • Ask yourself, your friends, your family, to become a registered donor, to insure yourself from what we are going through
  • Stem cells are extracted either from your pelvis or your peripheral blood.  Actual process is dependent on the condition of the donor.  Your bone marrow will grow back in less than a month after donation. (The risks for donating bone marrow are the same as those involved in any general anaesthetic.)
  • I have no control over finding a match for my daughter no matter how hard I work.  It will have to come from the generosity in all of you.  



再一次呼籲 我的女兒譚家宜,最近血癌復發,需要造血幹細胞移植,才可以保全生命。最近家宜與我經常見報上電視。我們並不是特殊人物,我們是得到各方媒界的支持,制造機會,讓我們可以代表家宜及全球的華人血癌病患者,向各位華裔朋友作一個呼籲,希望能令你們明白,血癌並不是絕對的絕症。血癌病患者是可以籍你們捐贈的造血幹細胞來延續生命。 

我自已感到十分慚愧,在家宜病發之前,對於造血幹細胞一無所知,更加錯過 18-60歲的可捐贈年齡。原來紅血球,白血球,血小板是造血幹細胞所造。慶幸健康的造血幹細胞是可以移植,經這途徑,血癌病患者是可以得救,生命是可以延續。 


各位朋友,我現時感受到,臨急抱佛腳的旁惶與無耐。眼見女兒每日爭分奪秒地與時間搏斗,剩下的日子在希望失望中一日一日渡過。我再借此機會,向大家呼籲,為家宜,為全球的血癌病患者,為我地華人的將來,伸出援手一齊在這方面作出未雨籌謀,請響應我的呼籲,支持我的呼籲,登記成為幹細胞捐贈者。鼓勵你的兒女,你的親戚,你周圍的朋友登記成為幹細胞捐贈者,救救在死亡邊緣爭扎的華人血癌病患者。地點可瀏覽 www.SaveCarolyn.com內的 be a donor索引。 




The African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) in UK

Thanks to Beverley De-Gale, co-founder of the UK charity ACLT, Carolyn’s story has been added to the Appeals Page on ACLT’s website.  Check out the link below



Bone Marrow Recipient Meets Man Who Saved His Life A Decade Ago

Bone Marrow Recipient Meets Man Who Saved His Life A Decade Ago

Friday August 22, 2008

What if you were asked to undergo a procedure to help save the life of someone you didn’t even know? And how would you feel if your contribution did just that?

Keith Murray can answer that question. The New Brunswick man came out of nowhere to save Brampton resident Eric Perron. But the duo had never met each other until Friday.

The story of how Murray and Perron became forever intertwined is a heart tugging tale of sacrifice and a simple act that was anything but.

It started in 1998 when leukemia patient Perron received a desperately needed bone marrow donation from Murray, a gift that wound up saving his life. For 10 years, neither man had ever met face-to-face. But when the east coast resident emerged from the doors at Pearson International Airport in the afternoon it was like they’d known each other forever.

“He’s part of the family,” Perron laughs, as he hugs his hero. “I’m very happy that he’s here.”

Murray doesn’t consider himself anything special. He was a regular blood donor until a friend from Newfoundland told him about the bone marrow program. And he didn’t hesitate to join up.

Little did he know he’d soon provide a match and give the 42-year-old Perron his second chance.

“This happened as just a matter of a regular blood donation,” he recounts. “I was told I was a positive match and so we got pretty excited about the idea of being able to contribute to someone that was in deep need of some bone marrow.”

But Perron, who now has a newborn child that wouldn’t have been here without Murray’s vital contribution, knows his new friend has changed his life. “I was lucky,” the recipient admits. “I have a brother and two sisters. They were not compatible with me.”

But Murray was and he wants his reward to be others getting involved in the One Match program. To find out how, click here.

Meanwhile, the two connected families are planning a champagne dinner and a night on the town – all on Perron, of course. It is, after all, the least he can do.

“There’s no chance I can survive without help, right?” he asks rhetorically. “And I’ve been lucky to have someone matching and right now I’m here because of that.”

“It’s important that people understand that it’s a painless program,” Murray concludes, looking at his beaming friend. 

“And the rewards are unbelievable.”




A Message from Charlie Young (楊采妮)

楊采妮呼籲市民去香港紅十字會登記為骨髓捐贈者, 以幫助譚家宜戰勝白血病。

Charlie Young (star of “Bangkok Dangerous” with Nicholas Cage) urges people to help save Carolyn Tam.




We are on NBC!

Thanks Jenny for getting us on NBC.  Good job!!


Aug 15, 2008 … Carolyn Tam. New Jersey Woman Leads Bone Marrow Drive

Jenny Pang was inspired by her friend diagnosed with a rare form of
leukemia. … more




DOGA spreading the news to help save the life of one of their old girls, Carolyn Tam.

Recently there has been a special request by one of our alumnae, artist and singer Ms. Karen Morris (class ’88) to help spread her pledge for help to her close primary school classmate, Carolyn Tam.

Carolyn unfortunately has been diagnosed with Leukemia and is in urgent need to seek for a matching bone marrow donor to save her life. For anyone who is willing to help, you can register with HK Red Cross to become a donor and have your blood tested.

Hong Kong Red Cross Hotline: 2710 1206

Visit your nearest HK Red Cross donor centre today and become a registered donor

Please help DOGA and Karen spread the news to help save the life of one of our old girls, Carolyn Tam.

What’s next?

Wow, it’s been a month since my last update.  It’s hard to explain, but some days time seems to go by reeeally slowly (especially when you are sick in bed but can’t fall asleep), and then other days you check the calendar and think to yourself: Oh my God, it’s been 4 1/2 months since my relapse!?

Well, not too long after my nightmarish 4-day stay at Toronto General’s Emergency due to a fever caused by an infection in the blood, I then caught an infection in my lungs and this time the fever lasted for 2 weeks!  I’m not going to bore you with the details during those two weeks, because each episode is temporary and the important thing is that it’s over.

My Uncle Lawrence from Vancouver came to stay with me and Mom for 2 weeks, and since he’s been here on the 2nd, I have been recovering rapidly – my blood counts are back up, we’ve been going out lunches, for walks, and most importantly, I gained back 5 of the 15lbs I lost since April!

Thanks to Susana and Angela in Vancouver, I got a ‘special’ copy of Sex and the City to watch at home since I can’t go to the movies because it’s too crowded.  I also got a copy of Yongey Rinpoche Mingyur’s Joy of Living, which I am surprisingly hooked on because Yongey is a Buddhist monk who also has a lot of knowledge in Western science.  In this book, he compares and explains the brain’s function both scientifically and spiritually, which I find fascinatiing.

In another few weeks, my brother, Patrick, is coming from HK to stay with us for a couple of months and I can’t wait for that! Despite what an unlucky situation this is, I consider myself a very lucky girl to have the kind of family and friends I have.  Not to mention the unbelievable amount of support and well wishes I have been receiving via emails, posts, and phone calls from people I have never met.  Then there are people like Jenny in Philadelphia who contacted us and organized a drive on Aug 16th, and Angela in Montreal who contacted us with all kinds of ideas to help promote our cause through her Chinese radio station contacts.

I don’t know what the next step is right now.  We have not found a match yet at this point.  My doctor is on holiday this week, and my gut tells me that when I see him next week, he might tell me that I need to do a 3rd round of chemo in order to keep me in remission (fingers-crossed that I am wrong).

Thank you again to all of you who have taken an interest in my plight and in turn helped with increasing the number of registered Asian stem cells donors dramatically these past 4 months.  PLEASE CONTINUE TO SPREAD THE WORD, FOLLOW UP WITH 5 PEOPLE, LET’S NOT LOSE THE INCREDIBLE MOMENTUM WE HAD.

Thank you on behalf of myself and ALL the patients I have come across at the hospital hoping to hear from their doctor: “We found a match!”




Dim Sum (UK) – Could you save Carolyn’s life?

Could you save Carolyn’s life?

Monday, 21 July 2008
On a normal Monday in November 2006 Carolyn Tam went for a routine annual check-up. She had the usual blood tests and then carried on with her day-to-day life. However within three days her doctor was calling her, telling her to come back to the hospital the next morning and to go straight to the emergency room if she felt nauseous. As a healthy young woman her initial reaction was “why?!” She told friends not to worry as she could cope with anything as long as it wasn’t cancer.     

It was.  

The following morning, after more tests, Carolyn was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia. Like most of us, she admits she wasn’t entirely aware of what this meant or the diseases’ symptoms. She describes the moment on her website “it sounds stupid now, but it didn’t even register with me that Princess Margaret is a cancer hospital. Then the doctor had just told me that I had cancer. I mean, this all happened within 3 days! It wasn’t until I went to the internet after the phone call that I started to freak out… I was afraid I would just die in my sleep that night.”  

Carolyn went on to fight against her cancer through various treatments, including chemotherapy, leading to her leukaemia going into remission, but this April she was told the leukaemia had resurfaced and this time she need a bone marrow transplant.  

The terrible thing about a bone marrow transplant is that your own family members have a 70% chance of not being a suitable donor, so a sufferer’s search usually has to be broadened. Worldwide about 12 million people are registered on various databases as being possible bone marrow donors, of which approximately 1million are of Chinese ethnicity.  

A match in ethnicity gives the donor a better chance of being a match, especially those with the surname Tam or Lau. So of course straightaway Carolyn’s doctor went to search family records and the world database. There was no match. This spurred Carolyn’s family into action, her mother and brother immediately flew to her home in Canada from Hong Kong. Then the search began in earnest, to look for a suitable donor who could save Carolyn’s life. 

She and her mother have been canvassing her current home, Canada whereas her brother has taken on the formidable task of informing the rest of the world. I spoke to him in Hong Kong about his main resource for searching for a donor, “Now I’m looking at this globally. Sure we can focus on how many people proportionately are registered in each country, but I’m focusing on getting as many people as possible registered in the world.” 

As we know, Patrick has a higher probability of finding a match within the Chinese community so he has concentrated his search there. Nevertheless, the poor response has surprised him, yet the case has been well publicised in Canada.  

“Here in Hong Kong it’s a more Chinese dominated society so people are seemingly more indifferent. I would imagine in Hong Kong there are more Chinese people so we would get a better response, but so far this is not the case.”  

Patrick even has some local celebrities backing his campaign, including Sammi Cheng and Karen Mok, but still the response has been lukewarm. The situation is similar in the UK with the Chinese registry rate being significantly lower proportionately than the amount of Chinese people in the country. According to the Anthony Nolan trust of the 395,000 people registered, only 1156 are of Oriental ethnicity.  

Despite this Patrick refuses to be negative: “the overseas Chinese in the UK can play a big role in raising awareness in the Chinese community. We just need one match, nothing more”. Also in the UK there is a restriction on giving blood if you are only living in the UK for a certain period, however this does not apply to potential bone marrow donors.

When you speak to Patrick you can feel the determination emanating from the man and I wanted to know how he manages to stay positive. “From the first day of this website we realised this isn’t just about Carolyn now, it’s about anyone in need. By expanding the worldwide register we might be saving someone else’s life today. I’ve learned a lot, and what we realised by doing this website is that there is actually a lot of love in this world. There are so many people who have extended their helping hand, sometimes you think they may care more than you do.” 

Nevertheless Patrick remains realistic because, more increasingly, time is of the essence. According to the Hong Kong Red Cross, a patient with a common type of tissue has a 1 in 2000 chance of finding a match. Yet a patient with rare tissue has only a 1 in 100,000 chance of finding a match. Unfortunately Carolyn has a rare tissue type, therefore this means that the search for a donor takes on even greater importance.  

As a result Patrick and Dimsum now call on the Chinese community to take action and join the registry list. Patrick confessed “We recently celebrated Carolyn’s birthday with her in Canada. We don’t like to say it but part of us is fearful it might be her last. This is why our work is so important now. To be honest we don’t mind if people don’t know how we feel, all we want is people to take action and get registered.” 

To get registered or involved, click here or call 020 7284 123 
Get registered, get a friend to get registered or organise a local drive – anything will help.

Dimsum also highlighted Kitty Cheung’s search for a donor in 2004. For further information, please visit or , as you could save a life today.

Karen Mok (莫文蔚) urging people to help save her friend Carolyn Tam.







South China Morning Post Hong Kong – July 16 2008

Singer in search for bone marrow donors for old classmate.

Visit your nearest HK Red Cross donor centre today and become a registered donor


A little story I shared with my teammates the day before last year’s marathon

This was my speech at the Leukemia Society’s Team in Training’s team dinner (Sept 29, 2007) the night before the Toronto Scotiabank Marathon where I walked 21K in 3 hours and raised $15,000.

On May 2, 2007, I went for a walk after dinner and at the Starbuck’s at the end of my street, I came across these Team in Training brochures (hold brochure up) on the counter while I was waiting for my coffee. I picked one up, and when I realized that it’s the Leukemia Society, I immediately thought that this was meant to be, that I have to check this out. Then I opened up the brochure, and when I saw the picture of this girl in the middle with a bandana around her head, and her name tag says ‘Carolyn’….Now, I JUST KNOW I am supposed to do this! I have to do this even if it meant crawling half the way………..and by the way, at that point I had NO IDEA just how far 21km is!

One thing I haven’t told you yet, is that I had a bandana around my head too that night at Starbuck’s. That I couldn’t just watch TV and go to bed after dinner because earlier on that day my oncologist had just taken out my Hickman Line. And for those of you who are not familiar with what a Hickman Line is – is was a tube that goes under your skin from here (pull collar down to show scar). One end of the tube went into my main artery, and the other end hung from my chest and that’s where the hospital drew blood and gave me the chemotherapy drugs. I know it sounds gross, but it sure beats getting needles up my arm twice a day.

So, the day I learned about Team in Training and the walk tomorrow, was actually the day my 5 months of chemotherapy was officially over. It was the day my oncologist told me that I am in full remission since finding out at the end of Nov last year, after just an annual check up, that I had Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

Everything happened so fast. I had my blood test on a Monday. By Wednesday, my family doctor called to tell me that they are making an appointment for me at NYGH and that in meantime if I felt nauseous or sick or feel I have a fever that I should go to the nearest emergency room right away. I was told this over phone by my doctor’s assistant while I was driving back to the office after a meeting, and my reaction at the time was “Why!??”

The next morning, I was at NYGH for another blood test and a bone marrow aspiration. Believe it or not, I still didn’t have a clue what this all meant, and I remember saying to my girlfriend, who took the afternoon off to be at NYGH with me, “I can handle anything, just don’t let it be cancer”.

The next day the haematologist at NYGH called to tell me over the phone that I have AML and that my file has been sent down to Princess Margaret and they will be in touch with me shortly.

Truth is, I didn’t really know during the phone call what it even meant to have acute leukemia. I know, it sounds stupid now, but it didn’t even register with me that Princess Margaret is a cancer hospital. That the doctor had just told me that I HAVE CANCER. I mean, this all happened within 3 days!

It wasn’t until I went to the almighty internet after the phone call that I started to freak out. After reading all the horrible things about leukemia, I was afraid to fall asleep that night because I didn’t know how “acute” my leukemia was…..I was afraid I would just die in my sleep that night.

Looking back, I don’t know what was worse that weekend – finding out that I have acute leukemia or having to tell my brother and mom over the phone from halfway around the world that I have leukemia, because they both live in Asia. Within a few days, my family was home, and on Dec 4th, I was admitted to Princess Margaret and spent 5 weeks at the hospital for my first round of chemotherapy.

I’m not going to go into detail about my treatments, because in the grand scheme of things, all the side effects I went through were just temporary and a really small price to pay in exchange for the rest of my life.

When I first signed up 4 months ago, I did it because I thought some cosmic power brought me to Team in Training that night at Starbuck’s. 4 months later today, I can honestly tell you that this has been one of the most amazing experiences in my life. For one, I have NEVER been an athletic person before. I mean my friends used to say ‘yeah right!’ if I told them I didn’t drive somewhere….yeah, I was that bad! In fact, I am willing to bet that half of them probably have a bet going somewhere that I wouldn’t follow through with the training this past Summer because getting up to go for a walk at 8am on a Saturday morning was just inconceivable before I got sick! You may think I’m nuts, but being able to finish the 21km tomorrow is going to be a bigger achievement to me than puking through the 5 months of chemotherapy! Ha

This was the first time I have ever fundraised. From the effort I put into it, to the response I got in return and then watching how powerful it can be when a bunch of people come together towards a common goal – not just from my family and friends, but also from seeing how all of you committed and dedicated your time and energy towards helping the Leukemia Society – I feel really proud to be a part of you. And I’m extremely grateful to my family and friends, because they have collectively contributed a little over $15,000!!! Although NEXT YEAR would be the real test of their love of me!! Ha

As a leukemia survivor, not only do I hope that someday there will be a cure for leukemia, so that others like me will have the certainty that our illness will never relapse and we could live to tell what a piece of cake chemotherapy was! But more personally, I hope that one day, no parent would never have to watch their child go through what I went through like my Mom did, or have to spend even a minute of their life wondering if their child is going to die before them, and for all that my Mom went through, I just want to say Thank You and I Love You, Mom.

Click here to register online today at to become a stem cell donor

Richmond, B.C. Drive- July 13 2008

I thought that the drive went quite well, getting 262 people tested through the Gift of Life kits, and another 250 people registered through!! Another 500+ possible people who could save Carolyn’s life, or somebody else’s loved one!

Here are some photos from the event!

Our volunteer team! (high resolution picture for you to download!)

Click here to register online today at to become a stem cell donor


Canadian Martyrs Catholic Church
5771 Granville Avenue, Richmond, BC

July 13, 2008 – 9am to 4pm
9am-1pm, church member registration.
1pm-4pm, public registration.

(604) 418-1800 – Susana Junk
(640) 817-2738 – Raymond Wong


七月十三日 星期日 下午一時至四時 
於列治文 加拿大殉道聖人天主堂 
5771 Granville Avenue (No. 2 Rd 以西)
列治文, 加拿大
黃先生 604-817-2738 或 鄭小姐 604-418-1800

e-mail, or

B.C. Metro News – July 14, 2008

Stem cell drive draws 260 possible donors

Kristen Thompson, Metro Vancouver
14 July 2008
Carolyn Tam is 260 steps closer to finding a much-needed stem cell match after a drive was held in Richmond yesterday screening possible candidates for a bone marrow transplant that would save her life.The stem cell drive, which provided on-site testing to see if volunteers were compatible with Carolyn, was held at Canadian Martyrs Catholic Church.

It was the third drive put on by Vancouver friends and family of the Toronto woman, who has been battling leukemia for two years and desperately needs a bone marrow transplant, ideally from a Chinese donor.
There are only about 500,000 Chinese Canadians who are currently registered as donors.

Susana Junk, a childhood friend who helped organize the drive, said even if those 260 people aren’t a match for her friend, they will be in the blood donor registry and could be compatible with another person in need of a donor.

“This is not just for Carolyn, it’s for everybody,” she said. “The major thing we want people to do is register with Canadian Blood Services.”

 Click here to register online today at to become a stem cell donor


救救血癌港女譚家宜 , 危在旦夕 家人籲全球華人捐骨髓

危在旦夕 家人籲全球華人捐骨髓

 血癌,一個光聽到已經令人聞風喪膽的名詞,一個令人感到 絕望的疾病,但多番與血癌搏鬥的譚家宜,並未因此而變得 消沉︰「其實我今次好驚,但我更加感受到,原來響外面有 咁多有愛心?人支持我!」家宜需要大家的協助,希望能找 到適合的骨髓捐贈者,延續其年輕的生命。記者王智報道

 於香港出生的譚家宜,現居加拿大,她在上個月底,於家 人的陪伴下,剛剛渡過了38歲的生日。生日會沒有豐富的食 物,除了一個生日蛋糕,就只得一些白粥,因為正在接受化 療的家宜,受化療副作用影響而失去了胃口。她因為化療, 甩光了頭髮,而且身體甚為虛弱,但仍與家人聊天聊得起勁 。其胞弟家強表示︰「?次知道佢有血癌,好似我?仲驚過 佢咁!」但他亦知道,明年今日,此情此景可能不再復見。


 06年11月,家宜在一次普通身體檢查,偶然地發現血癌早 期徵兆。幸好發現得早,經過半年的藥物療程及化療,醫生 表示她體內的癌細胞已經消失。病好後的家宜,巧合地看現 一項為血癌患者籌款的馬拉松活動,她立即決定要去參加, 最後她不但跑完全程,更籌得1.5萬加幣(11.6萬港元)。當 時她向母親表示︰「我唔想只係取之於社會,應該要回饋社 會!」

 不過,癌魔未肯放過這個充滿熱誠的生命,沉寂半年,又 再來襲。今次醫生告訴家宜,她的情況已經無法靠化療根治 ,一定要找合適的骨髓進行移植,但家宜家人的骨髓卻不適 用。


 現時正進行化療的家宜,不但無法進食,還頻頻因為化療 而發高燒,上周她在升降機內突然暈倒,更是令家人擔心不 已,家強表示:「醫生冇話知家姐可以撐幾耐,但佢話化療 唔可以一直做落去,家姐?身體未必頂得住!」

 為了家宜,家人四出奔走,在美加、香港及內地發起捐贈 骨髓的活動,又建立網頁,希望喚起全球的有心人士,前往 醫院進行配對測試︰「醫生說,有些人的骨髓較普通,二千 個人之中,就有一個人適合作移植,但亦有人的骨髓較難配 對,只得10萬分之一的機會。我?搵過全球?骨髓庫,都搵 唔到適合?骨髓。依家要有10萬個人行動,先至可以畀到家 姐一個機會。」


 家強呼籲姓譚及姓劉,又或者籍貫為廣東雲浮或客家興寧 的華人特別注意,因為據醫生所說,他們的骨髓最有機會能 助家宜脫險。其實在家強建立的網頁上,求助者的名字不只 有他的姊姊一人,「因為只要愈多人肯行做捐骨髓?登記, 就愈多人可以受惠,呢個亦係家姐?心願。」

 許多人都以為,捐骨髓又痛又危險,其實都是誤解。本港 紅十字會就指出,有意登記作捐贈骨髓者的人,其要求是是 身體健康,年齡介乎18歲至60歲,院方只需抽出大約五毫升 的血液樣本,便可以基本得到其骨髓資料,如果不是有人有 需要,不用抽出骨髓,也不會痛,但登記者的幾滴血,卻隨 時為血癌患者帶來希望。有意捐贈骨髓的人士,可以致電 27101206,或親臨任何紅十字會輸血中心查詢。

(CTV BC) Family pushes for ethnic bone marrow donors

CTV British Columbia- Family pushes for ethnic bone marrow donors … Carolyn Tam has leukemia — and if she doesn’t get a bone marrow transplant, she will die. But Tam faces a bigger challenge than many —
because she is of … more

太陽報 東方日報 Hong Kong – July 13 2008


Visit your nearest HK Red Cross donor centre today and become a registered donor







家宜現時病情危急,刻不容緩,太陽報愛心基金與東方日報慈善基金正協助家宜尋找合適骨髓,有意捐贈骨髓者可致電2710 1234與紅十字會聯絡,該會會先為捐贈者登記,並抽取少量血液作紀錄及配對,倘捐贈者的血液合,會通知捐贈者作骨髓捐贈。

B.C. Metro News – July 10 2008

Stem cells needed

Kristen Thompson, Metro Vancouver
10 July 2008 02:31
Photo courtesy of Susana Junk

Carolyn Tam, left, and Susana Junk. Junk is helping organize a stem cell drive to help Tam in her fight against leukemia.

The Vancouver friends and family of a Toronto woman battling leukemia hope a stem cell drive, being held on Sunday, will help find the rare and much-needed match their ailing friend requires.
Carolyn Tam, 37, has been battling leukemia since 2006, and is in dire need of a bone marrow transplant.
The problem, said childhood friend Susana Junk, who lives in Vancouver, is that Tam needs a donor of Chinese descent, which is difficult because ethnic minorities are underrepresented in the donor registry.
Junk said while Caucasians have a 70-85 per cent chance of finding a match, the likelihood drops to five per cent for Chinese patients because so few Chinese are registered as donors.
“Asians are not really too aware of the stem cell donating process,” said Junk. “It’s simple. Register not just for Carolyn, but for other people in her situation.”
Sunday’s drive will provide on-site testing and the opportunity for people to sign others up for the bone marrow registry.
A previous drive held in Vancouver on June 14 tested 820 people. On the same day in Ontario, 1,500 showed up at four drives.