It really was a tremendous turnout, with so many people already on the registry. It was a pleasure having the opportunity to share about bone marrow donation and engage with such a tight-knit community. Thank you so much for the time, space and opportunity!
Thanks again to the community at Hope Midtown for volunteering their time, space and resources in hosting the first ever Cheekswab bone marrow drive in NYC this past Sunday. Running a drive in NYC definitely presents challenges over running a drive in VA (including taking supplies to/from the drive location in a suitcase via cab) and due to the three year period since my last drive I had a few anxieties going into Sunday but it went as smoothly as I could have possibly hoped. Personally I felt like the drive validated all of the effort that’s been put into relaunching Cheekswab. It really seemed like people on Sunday understood and accepted the weight of the commitment of joining the registry.
And a huge, huge thank you to the friends and family who took time out of their Sunday to volunteer and man stations at the drive, as well as receive training earlier in the week. Running drives is still an art that I’m nowhere near perfecting but things go so much more smoothly with the help of patient and willing volunteers. None of this is possible without you.
I’m now looking for additional opportunities to run drives addressing ethnic minority groups in NYC. Please contact me if there’s a group or organization you’re involved with that would be interested!
Just a few weeks ago Joon was diagnosed with acute leukemia, and since then has been in hospital undergoing treatment. Her recovery depends on the identification of a donor whose blood stem cells are compatible.
Joon Gremillet-Nguyen is a young French woman of Vietnamese descent, currently a university student in Geneva, Switzerland. She was adopted in Vietnam when she was few weeks old. She turned 18 in July.
In May she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia –Philadelphia Chromosome positive. At the end of her chemotherapy treatment, towards the end of September, she will have to undergo a stem cell transplant.
Since Joon is an adopted Vietnamese child, there are no compatible donors from within her adoptive family. To find a compatible donor for Joon, we must find a donor whose genetic profile is as close as possible to hers.
For this reason, the best chance of finding a match is from within the same ethnic group as Joon. Unfortunately, there are very few Asian (and in particular Vietnamese) potential donors enrolled in the international stem cell donor registry, although sadly, there is a high incidence of Joon’s disease in this community.
And the second problem for us is that Viet Nam is not a participating country of the Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide, which means that the Center in Switzerland coordinating the search cannot tap into the profiles of donors in Viet Nam. Therefore, it is more likely to find a match for Joon among Vietnamese living abroad. For this reason, we are most grateful to organisations like Cheekswab for relaying this call for help.
Nina Polvanich Louie, a young wife and mother of Thai and Chinese descent from California, is in desperate need of a bone marrow donor following her diagnosis of Stage 4 Lymphoma in September of last year. Her time is running short as doctors have determined that the cancer has spread to her brain and she must find a bone marrow match within 5 weeks.
There’s a very strong push in California and throughout the country to find Nina a marrow match, and given the timeline it’s possible to have expedited marrow processing by labeling the kit “VINIYA” in the promo section. Friends and family are putting a call out to unregistered Asian Americans throughout the country to join the registry as soon as possible, whether online or at a local drive.