Quebec leukemia patient making 'superhero recovery' after global search for donor
A Quebec mother who received a cord blood donation following a global appeal is said to be making a “superhero’s recovery,” at home.
Mai Duong, a 34-year-old Vietnamese-Canadian who was diagnosed with leukemia is out of the hospital and back at home with her daughter just four weeks after receiving the potentially life-saving stem cells.
“Mai’s doing better by the day, she’s doing extremely well given what she’s been through but she’s still, very fragile,” Duong’s friend Christiane Rochon said.
Duong beat cancer last year following chemotherapy. In May, blood tests revealed the leukemia had returned.
Doctors said Duong would need a bone marrow transplant or cord blood stem cells and she needed it fast.
But the odds were stacked against Duong when she sought a stem cell match. Despite being on the international list, doctors struggled.
Duong launched a website to find a compatible Asian stem cell donor and raise awareness about the pressing need for stem cell donors in minority communities.
In September, an umbilical cord blood donor was found.
The Save Mai Duong campaign, which appealed to the Vietnamese communities across Canada and to the global Asian population, has indeed made a difference, Rochon said. “We increased the registry in Quebec by four per cent for Asians.”
According to Duong’s website, less than 1 per cent of the 25 million donors worldwide are Vietnamese and all ethnic communities are under-represented in the world donor bank.
“What we realized is that if you’re not white, your chances of finding a donor go down by the thousands,” Rochon said in an interview with CTV’s Canada AM Wednesday. “So it’s a huge inequality and we feel every that single human being should have the same fighting chance when disease comes knocking.”
Rochon said Duong is being closely monitored as she recovers.
“She needs blood transfusions, platelets, and just to make sure nothing is missing in her blood, like magnesium,” Rochon said.