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)

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。