It’s no secret that minorities and ethnically mixed Canadians are vastly underrepresented on cord blood or bone marrow stem cell registries. Underrepresentation is also an international problem for people with Asian backgrounds. Experts say only 1 percent of registered cord blood or bone marrow donors around the world are of Asian heritage.
For one woman in Quebec, this underrepresentation is a serious risk for her chance to recover from leukaemia. Mai Duong, a 34 year old of Vietnamese background, is battling leukaemia for a second time following a temporary reprieve from the illness after a successful round of chemotherapy.
Duong’s doctors would like to use a cord blood or bone marrow stem cell transplant to fight the leukaemia this time around. But finding a viable donor has been unsuccessful as only a fraction of registered donors in Quebec are of Vietnamese background.
But Duong is a very proactive and creative person by nature, and decided to spread the message of underrepresentation through social media. Duong created a video that went viral courtesy of friends and followers, while radio and billboard ads were played throughout Montreal that shared Duong’s story, and encouraged people to donate.
Within the video, Duong’s message is very clear. If a donation is unable to help her beat leukaemia, it could help another Canadian of Vietnamese heritage.
According to the Canadian Press, the stem cell donor message is resonating across Quebec. Héma-Québec, the Quebec equivalent of Canadian Blood Services, says the volume of new registrants increased by 1,700 since Duong’s campaign went viral, including 1,000 people who specifically said they have an Asian background.
Duong is very excited about the response to the campaign, claiming the support around Quebec is helping her remain positive in her fight against leukaemia.
“I have the world with me against cancer, so hopefully we’re going to win.”