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)

Merry X’mas & Healthy New Year from Mama

Chinese Community Asking You to “Be The One” 華人社區請求你參與「就是你」(Be the One)捐贈幹細胞

Local Chinese Group Launch Month Long Stem Cell Awareness Campaign

For Immediate Release

華人社區請求你參與「就是你」(Be the One)捐贈幹細胞


加拿大的OneMatch幹細胞及骨髓網絡(OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network)很高興和加華幹細胞協會(OtherHalf Chinese Stem Cell Initiative)合作,公佈展開一個提高意識運動﹐目的在爭取更多華人在加國及全球登記成為幹細胞捐贈者。這運動的焦點環節為221日假萬錦廣場(3255 Hwy. 7, East)舉行的提高意識活動(Awareness Event)

需要幹細包移植的病人,包括癌症、淋巴瘤(lymphoma )、骨髓瘤(lymyeloma)、其他免疫系統及基因紊亂症患者,當中只有三成可以在自己的家人中找到吻合的幹細胞,其餘七成病人則要倚靠沒親屬關係捐贈者的慷慨支持。由於在同一種族人士當中找到吻合幹細胞遠較不同種族為高,所以OneMatch幹細胞及骨髓網絡需要有更多不同族裔的捐贈者登記。在任何一刻,最少有600名面對生命危險的加拿大病患者需要接受幹細胞移植手術。

OneMatch幹細胞及骨髓登記處的行政總裁Sue Smith表示:「透過和加華幹細胞協會合作﹐OneMatch及加拿大血液局(Canadian Blood Services)彰顯及結集社區的力量﹐以身作則成為一個領導榜樣,不單止令為社區內有需要接受幹細胞移植的病人更易找到幹細胞配對,同時全球的華人社區亦可受惠。」她亦表示﹕「我請求其他不同族裔社群跟隨這個例子,與OneMatch並肩合作,向我們的共同目標邁進﹐令OneMatch幹細胞及骨髓登記冊上所有不同族裔的登記人數都同時增加。」

不但要幫助加拿大的華人﹐同時也要幫助全球的華人﹐這是加華幹細胞協會的聯合主席Susan Go發起這次捐贈運動及提高意識活動的主要原因。「華人社區再不能自滿地抱著『這不會是我』的態度﹐尤其是當華人在OneMatch網絡的登記比例偏低的時候。作為一個社群﹐華人現在就要有所行動﹐集合全社區的力量盡力增加華人在加拿大和全球的登記數字。」

在未來四星期﹐加華幹細胞協會籌備了多項活動﹐包括推出網頁﹑在Rogers Centre 1232425日的農曆新年活動中設置資料攤位、在YouTubeFacebook上開展針對年輕人的招募活動﹐以及221日在萬錦廣場舉行提高意識活動﹐提醒社區捐贈幹細胞的迫切性。

如果你有興趣成為可救人一命的捐贈者,今天便請登上www.onematch.ca加入OneMatch﹐或致電加拿大血液局1-888-2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283)

現時在加國約有10名加拿大華裔病人正等待非親屬幹細胞捐贈,在全球幹細胞捐贈資料庫超過12,000,000個捐贈登記中,只有少於500,000個登記者是華裔。加華幹細胞協會由一班來自不同背景的市民創辦﹐希望把這個逼切情況告知廣大華裔社群。我們和加拿大幹細胞仲介OneMatch合作,目標是令更多華人到幹細胞登記處登記。憑借OneMatch、病人、不同社區組織、醫務專家及傳媒專才的幫助﹐我們舉辦提高意識運動﹐致力解除幹細胞的謎團﹐以及教育公眾有關捐贈常識。我們衷心希望得到華人社區支持﹐以及鼓勵到所有華裔加拿大人到OneMatch登記成為幹細胞捐贈者。我們希望大家認識到如果能救到一個生命﹐感覺會是多麼良好。就是你(Be the One) ﹐請你挺身而出﹐成為拯救生命的另一半( the Other Half)

加拿大血液局是一個全國性、非牟利慈善機構,專責管理加國除魁省以外所有省份的血液及血液相關產品的供應。加拿大血液局同時監察OneMatch幹細胞及骨髓網絡,以及在全國領導器官及組織的捐贈與移植。加拿大血液局負責運作40個固定的收集中心﹐以及每年超過19,000個捐贈站,加拿大血液局的營運資金由各省及特區的衛生廳提供,聯邦政府透過加拿大衛生部(Health Canada)負責監管血液管理系統。更多詳情,可瀏覽網址
Click here for your local Registry’s link and REGISTER TODAY to help Carolyn and Others.

Toronto, January 22, 2009 – Canada’s OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network is pleased to partner with OtherHalf – Chinese Stem Cell Initiative by announcing an awareness campaign aimed directly at increasing the number of Chinese stem cell registrants in Canada and throughout the world.  The campaign will culminate with an Awareness Event at First Markham Place, 3255 Hwy. #7, East, Markham, Ontario, on February 21st.

Patients needing stem cells transplants include those suffering from cancers, lymphoma, myeloma and other immune and genetic disorders. Only 30 per cent of them can typically find a match within their own family, while the other 70 per cent must depend on the generosity of unrelated donors. Because the likelihood of finding a match is far greater within one’s own ethnic group, more donors from diverse backgrounds are needed to sign up for the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network. Equally, at any given time at least 600 Canadian patients facing life-threatening illnesses are in need of a stem cell transplant.

“By partnering with groups such as OtherHalf – Chinese Stem Cell Initiative, OneMatch and Canadian Blood Services, recognize and embrace the power of community; to lead by example by making stem cell transplants more readily available for patients not only within their community, but within Chinese communities around the world,” confirms Sue Smith, Executive Director, OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Registry.  “I ask for other diverse groups to follow this example and work together side-by-side with OneMatch towards our collective goal of increasing all diversities on OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Registry.”

Helping the Chinese community not just in Canada but around the world is at the centre of Susan Go, Co-chair of OtherHalf – Chinese Stem Cell Initiative’s reason for holding the campaign and awareness event.   “As a community we can no longer be complacent thinking, ‘it will not be me’ when clearly our community is underrepresented on the OneMatch Network.  As a group we needed action now from all parts of our community to make sure we have done everything within our power to increase the number of Chinese registrants here in Canada and around the world.”

There are many activities the group has planned over the next four weeks from the launch of, an information booth at the CNY Rogers Centre event on Jan. 23, 24 and 25 and youth focused recruitment activities on YouTube and Facebook all centred around promoting the immediate need and the February 21st Awareness Event at First Markham Place.

If you’re interested in becoming the one match to save someone’s life, join OneMatch today by logging onto or calling Canadian Blood Services at 1 888 2 DONATE (1 888 236-6283).

About OtherHalf Chinese Stem Cell Initiative

Currently there are about 10 Chinese Canadian patients waiting for unrelated stem cell donors in Canada alone.  Out of over 12 million donors registered in the Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide database less than 500,000 of these registrants are of Chinese origin.

OtherHalf—Chinese Stem Cell Initiative was started by a group of concerned citizens from diverse backgrounds who wanted to make this dire situation known to the Chinese public.  In collaboration with OneMatch, the Canadian stem cell agency, our goal is to increase the number of registrants of Chinese origin in the stem cell registry.  With help from OneMatch, patients, various community organizations, medical experts, and media specialists, we are conducting awareness campaigns to deflect myths and educate the public about stem cell donation.  It is our sincere hope that this will motivate the Chinese community to champion this initiative and encourage all Chinese Canadians to register as stem cell donors with OneMatch.

We would like people to think how good they would feel if they could save a life… BE THE ONE.  Be the ‘other half’ to save a life.

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

About Canadian Blood Services/OneMatch

Canadian Blood Services is a national, not-for-profit charitable organization that manages the supply of blood and blood products in all provinces and territories outside of Quebec. Canadian Blood Services also oversees the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, and provides national leadership for organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Canadian Blood Services operates 40 permanent collection sites and more than 19,000 donor clinics annually. The provincial and territorial Ministries of Health provide operational funding to Canadian Blood Services. The federal government, through Health Canada, is responsible for regulating the blood system. For more information, please visit our Web site at


Amy Tam, Co-chair

Susan Go, Co-chair

Email –

(416) 760-6181

John Bromley, ABC

Communications Manager, OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network

(416) 313-4438

Canada’s OneMatch to offer services in Chinese


November 3, 2008

In an effort to recruit even more volunteer stem cell donors from varied ethnic communities, Canada’s OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network is pleased to announce it is beginning to offer services in languages beyond English and French. As a first step, services in Chinese will be made possible thanks to partnerships with the Elizabeth Lue Bone Marrow Foundation of Toronto, and AILIA (Association de l’industrie de la langue/Language Industry Association) … more.

為了呼籲更多不同族裔的志願人士加入捐贈幹細胞行列,加拿大的 OneMatch 幹細胞及骨髓網絡宣佈,開始以英語和法語以外的語言提供服務。我們衷心感謝在合作夥伴多倫多小麗莎骨髓基金會和語言產業協會(AILIA /Association de l’industrie de la langue/Language Industry Association)的大力協助下, 率先使用中文提供服務 … more.

This is why we need your help. Please watch.

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



EARS Online 廣播線網上電台

Thank you Jason for talking about Carolyn, and to have her banner posted on your site.  Appreciate it.

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

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