Match found: Alberta sisters thrilled to find stem cell donor for brother, possibly others
An Edmonton family on a mission to rally Asian stem cell donors to save their brother is celebrating some great news.
One of Bille Nguyen’s three sisters, Susan Nguyen, has been confirmed as a perfect match.
“With a 10 out of 10 match and the matching blood type and [Susan] doesn’t have any [health] issues, [doctors] are quite optimistic,” Bille said.
“This is the best we could hope for… just such a stroke of luck.”
Susan got the call from the Cross Cancer Institute while driving.
“I actually had to stop the car on the side of the road and just sit there and just take that in,” Susan said.
“And then I called my sisters and the three of us were on a three-way call and they just burst out crying.”
In January, Bille was diagnosed with Stage 4 subcutaneous panniculitis t-cell lymphoma — a rare blood cancer. One doctor gave him a 10 per cent chance of survival, unless the 25-year-old could have a stem cell transplant this summer.
Because his best bet for a match is someone of similar ethnicity, his sisters were tested. But confirmation can take weeks, and Bille’s cancer is aggressive. Worried no one in the family would be a suitable donor, the Nguyens organized a number of donor drives, encouraging people of Asian descent to register for OneMatch.
Watch below: Bille Nguyen is fighting cancer but his best chance is a stem cell donor. In the hopes of finding a match, his family hosted a swab event and were overwhelmed by the response. Su-Ling Goh reports. (Filed May 7, 2018).
Right now, only 16 per cent of registered donors on OneMatch are of Asian descent.
Thanks to the Nguyen family’s seven donor drives in Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto, at least 2,000 more potential donors were added. It is possible those drives have already save another life.
“We did hear that a girl that had been searching for two years suddenly found a match just a couple weeks ago,” Susan said. “[By the] timeline, it sounds like it might be someone from our group.”
The family is planning six more swab drives, including events in Vancouver and Los Angeles. Click here for more info.
“I have my match, but others don’t,” Bille said. “We’d like to take our momentum that we have currently and focus it onto the others.”
Bille and Susan will go to Calgary for the transplant at the end of July.
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