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Emily Needs Stem Cells

8 March 2013

I’d like to introduce you to someone.

This is Emily.

Emily Needs Stem Cells

She is my sister-in-law’s best friend from school. Like me, she is a mum.

This is her son Luke, and he is now five years old.

Emily Needs Stem Cells

Emily has been battling cancer for the last two years. It keeps coming back, which is very bad news, because each time, it has to be treated with even more extreme chemotherapy.

A few weeks ago, it came back for a third time, and as you read this, Emily is in hospital again.

Emily is going to die, unless she can get a transplant of stem cells, and get them quickly. So her doctors have tested everyone in her family as a possible donor. No match.

Then, they have looked in the international registry of stem cell donors, (which is also called a Bone Marrow Donation Registry, because the stem cells are made in your bones, but are collected from your blood.)

There are about 10 million people in the international registry… but there is no match for Emily.

And here is the problem.
Getting a match for a blood transfusion is quite simple.
Getting a match for a kidney or heart is very hard.
But to get a match for stems cells is VERY, VERY, VERY hard.

Something as amazing as stem cells, which can regrow your immune system, require a very close tissue match. Since Emily is ethnically Chinese, her best chance is with an ethnically Chinese or mixed Chinese donor.

But there are VERY FEW ethnically Chinese people who have registered for stem cell donation.

And “apparently” this is because Chinese people have a cultural perception that blood donation is dangerous.

So, Emily is going to die unless a LOT of ethnically East Asian/Chinese people join the Stem Cell/Bone Marrow register in their country, and a match can be found. Her husband will have no wife, and her son will have no mother.

So, how do we get a LOT of people from Team Chinese to quickly register as donors?

My first step, obviously, is to get my ethnically-Chinese ass down to a blood donor station, and say “I want to become a stem cell donor”.

In Australia and Singapore, this happens at any Red Cross Blood Collection Center. I’m going to photograph the whole thing,  to show that becoming a donor is easy and safe. And who knows, maybe I am Emily’s match. Maybe I can save her life, and her family.

But it is apparently a one-in-a-thousand chance that I am Emily’s match.

So I am going to need your help, and a lot of other people’s help.

More soon.

Find out more about Emily on her website or her Facebook Page.