A number of community organizations - including Burnaby Pacific Grace Church - are coming together in hopes of finding stem cell matches for those in the Chinese community.
Chinese Christian Mission of Canada, OtherHalf Chinese Stem Cell Initiative, OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network and Grace Church are holding a stem cell drive this Saturday, Jan. 21 in both Burnaby and Richmond simultaneously.
The event has been prompted in part by Judy Lam, a 22-year-old Chinese woman studying at UBC whose childhood leukemia - originally treated with chemotherapy - has returned. She needs a stem cell transplant but no one in her family is a match and therefore she must find a donor among the larger community.
About 25 per cent of people can find a match among a sibling, but the rest must rely on stem cell donors - and a patient's best chance of finding a match is among their own ethnic group. According to Other Half, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of registered Chinese donors, there are about 19 million registered stem cell donors worldwide, but less than three per cent of them are Chinese, meaning that it is much more unlikely that someone from that community will find a donor match.
Organizers say that, with Chinese New Year around the corner, this is a good way to celebrate and help out at the same time.
A press release for the event notes that they're encouraging Chinese Canadians of all ages and genders to come out to the drive, but there's also a particularly urgent need for young men 35 years and under to join the stem cell network.
Anyone already registered with OneMatch does not need to re-register to take part.
The Richmond drive is taking part at Aberdeen Centre, 4151 Hazelbridge Way, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.; the Burnaby drive is taking place at CCM Centre (next to the food court), Level 2, Burnaby Crystal Mall, 4500 Kingsway, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Other Half Chinese Stem Cell initiative is hosting a national drive in March as well.
For more information, see www.chinesestemcell.ca - which features a video appeal from Judy Lam - and http://www.onematch.ca.
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