Edmonton teen appeals to local Asian community for stem cell match

Melinda Wang requires a stem cell transplant and is looking for a donor of Asian descent. Global News

Melinda Wang is facing the biggest battle of her young life.

“I was shocked and worried,” Wang said, describing when learning of the diagnosis. “I thought, ‘Am I going to lose my life?’ But now I’m just trying to be cured.”

The 17-year-old was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and requires a stem cell transplant to survive.

The Grade 12 student just completed her second of four rounds of chemotherapy.

“It’s very hard for me,” Wang said. “I have painful mouth sores, dizziness, I’ve lost a lot of [weight] because I can’t eat.”

READ MORE: Edmonton family continues to push for more Asian stem cell donors

Wang’s family and friends saw the outpouring of support for Edmonton’s Billie Nguyen earlier this year when he was looking for a donor match after being diagnosed with a rare blood cancer.

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The family held several stem cell swab events and were able to find a match for Billie while also increasing the Asian donor pool.

Family and friends of Melinda Wang are organizing a stem cell swab drive to be held at the University of Alberta at the end of the month, specifically focusing on the need for asian donors.

Melinda will celebrate her 18th birthday on November 30th.

According to  OneMatch, Only 16 per cent of registered donors are of Asian descent, meaning it can often be more difficult for Asian cancer patients to find a match. The Asian/Chinese/Vietnamese stem cell donor pool is extremely small.

The stem cell donor should be of Asian descent and be between the ages of 17 and 35.

The stem cell swab event will be held at the U of A Business Building November 30 between 1 p.m. – 7 p.m. and December 1st between 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.

A third event will be held on December 2nd at the Life Renewal Baptist Church at 3 p.m.

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