‘A second chance at life’: B.C. man with 2 rare forms of cancer’s desperate hunt for stem cell match
The family of a New Westminster man is making an urgent appeal for help as they desperately search for a stem cell donor.
Martin Lintag was diagnosed with two rare blood cancers late last year: acute lymphocytic leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia.
The once-healthy and active 30-year-old accountant is now fighting for his life. His doctors say Martin needs to find a compatible stem cell donor.
“It would mean the world to me. It would be a second chance at life,” Lintag told Global News.
Unable to leave the house, he did an interview via Skype. He says his condition is worsening.
“My body has basically broken down while waiting for a match. Just this past week, I learned that my cancer cells jumped from four per cent to 60 per cent,” he said.
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Having already suffered the loss of their youngest son in 2009, Martin’s family is praying a match will be found.
It’s why they’re thankful for the volunteers who’ve organized a weekend donor drive targeting Metro Vancouver’s Filipino community. The effort is being spearheaded by people like Adrienne San Juan, whose sister found a stem cell match to treat her rare cancer in December.
“We just wanted to pay it forward and help other Filipino families go through this and help them with doing the drives,” San Juan said.
Now the push is on from Metro Vancouver to Toronto, encouraging Filipinos across Canada to register.
Susan Nguyen is helping by organizing donor drives in Edmonton. In 2018, she and her family searched tirelessly for a donor for their brother. In the end, she was the match he needed.
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“I think we just need to keep pounding and hounding everyone and everyone and once they realize how many people this is affecting, they’ll be more willing to come out,” Nguyen said.
Sarah Jasmins with Canadian Blood Services, says it’s no secret there is a need for more ethnically diverse stem cell donors.
“When you look at our database in Canada, it’s about 68, 69 per cent Caucasian which is great if you’re a Caucasian patient, it makes it easier to find a match. But if you’re anybody else, you can have a much harder time finding a match,” she said.
Previously, drives organized by San Juan and Nguyen led to more than 600 people getting swabbed.
As they join forces for Martin, Linda is hopeful her community will come out in big numbers, as they wait for the miracle her son so desperately needs.
“It only takes a few minutes of their time which can mean the life of another person — the life of my Martin,” she said.
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