Stem cell drive at Richmond night market hopes to recruit more Asian donors

OtherHalf - Chinese Stem Cell Initiative, Facebook

The Richmond night market draws foodies from across the Lower Mainland, but this month it is helping to attract attention to a very serious issue.

OtherHalf Chinese Stem Cell Initiative in partnership with One Match is on site looking for stem cell donors.

Canadian Blood Services says they are facing a huge shortage of donors with Asian backgrounds.

Penny Chan, the co-chair of the OtherHalf Chinese Stem Cell Initiative, says only seven per cent of people in the stem cell database are of Chinese descent.

Chan says when they started the initiative six years ago, the number was as low as two per cent.

“The reason why we are at the night market is because we want to encourage more young people to register,” says Chan. “Right now, we are only taking 17-35 year olds to register, because it makes for a better outcome for the patients.”

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There are hopes that night market visitors will register because signing up to get a cheek swab could save a life and takes as little as five minutes.

“Right now we are only asking people to register, we are not asking to donate anything. Not until you are a match,” adds Chan.

Once someone is a match, the donating process is similar to a blood donation, according to Chan.

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