13-Year-Old Leukemia Survivor Meets Her Life-Saving Donor on May 1st “A Gift of Life Celebration”

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San Francisco, CA – Today Vicky Tran, who is 13 years old and a native of San Francisco, met her bone marrow donor – the man who saved her life. The first anniversary of Vicky’s marrow transplant is May 1, 2013.

Vicky wanted to thank her donor, her marrow transplant team and all who have registered to be on the national marrow/stem cell registry. So, the Asian American Donor Program (AADP) worked with Vicky and her family and hosted “A Gift of Life Celebration” at University of California San Francisco, Sounders Court. It is not often that a leukemia survivor and his/her marrow donor meet in person.

Jonathan Leong, AADP Founder and Ruby Law, AADP Recruitment Director, smoothed the path for the two to meet. Both Vicky and her donor were a little shy and apprehensive. Once they met in person, they hugged each other and they both had a huge smile on their faces. May Tran, Vicky’s mother was close to tears. She is so thankful for Vincent stepping forward. “How do you thank someone for giving your child a chance to live, it’s impossible,” May Tran said.

More about Vicky Tran, bone marrow transplant recipient

In November of 2011, Vicky was just 12 years old when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). She needed to find an unrelated marrow donor who could help save her life by donating their marrow to her. Vicky’s ethnic background is Vietnamese and Chinese, which made her search challenging. After 6 months of searching for a donor worldwide, she found her life saving donor – ironically, someone who works in San Francisco, where Vicky was born and raised. Vicky received her transplant on May 1, 2012 at UCSF.

More about Vincent Pan, the marrow donor

Vincent Pan was born in New York City in 1973. He is of Chinese descent. He grew up in New Jersey and moved to San Francisco in 2005.

On May 1, 2012, Vincent’s marrow was used in a transplant procedure to save Vicky’s life. At the time, Vincent did not know the name of the patient he was helping, nor that person’s age, gender nor where she lived.

Background

Marrow matches are ethnically based. Only 30% of the time will a patient find that their sibling is a match. Then, the search turns to locating a stranger who is a match – most likely someone from the same ethnic background. Those who are not Caucasians are more likely to die of leukemia or of other blood cancers. This is because there is a shortage of ethnic minority donors on the national registry.

What’s the Solution?

Register at a local drive, complete a registration form and do a cheek swab to join the “Be the Match” national registry. Some registration drives have a focus on helping a particular patient, but you can go to any drive. Also, you can request a home kit be mailed to you and do the cheek swab at your convenience.

How You Can Help

There are several ways you can help:

•  If you are 18-44 years of age, register at a local drive in your area. It takes just a few minutes.  The registration fee is paid for by AADP.  AADP does fundraising throughout the year to cover these expenses.

•  Register at home by requesting a home kit.

Visit www.aadp.org to have a kit mailed to you.

•  Contact friends and family and encourage them to go to a registration drive or register using a home kit.

•  Set up a drive in your area by calling AADP at 1-800-593-6667

•  Make a donation to AADP to help cover the costs of tissue typing and registration fees. Go to http://www.aadp.org/give/

Shortage of Ethnic/Multi-Ethnic Donors—What’s the solution?

Every year, more than 10,000 patients in the U.S. could benefit from a bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant from an unrelated donor. About 70 percent of patients in need of a transplant do not have a matching donor in their family and depend on registries worldwide to find a match. Patients are more likely to find a match from someone from their own ancestry. Only twenty eight percent of the nation’s 10.5 million registered potential bone marrow donors are multi-ethnic.

For information, call the Asian American Donor Program staff at:  1-800-593-6667 or visit http://www.aadp.org/

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