Family appeals to Filipino community in bid to find life-saving stem-cell match
A desperate Winnipeg family has made an appeal to the Filipino community in a bid to find a life-saving stem-cell match -- the only cure for a teenager living with two rare blood diseases.
Sixteen-year-old Roshlind Mance is confined to her Calgary home, her only outings are to the hospital for blood transfusions.
“I’ve been feeling sad, scared, lost and lonely,” Roshlind told CTV Winnipeg.
“One disease is hard enough to deal with and I have two.”
This summer Roshlind was diagnosed with aplastic anemia and paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria or PNH.
The only cure for the life-threatening blood disorders is a stem-cell transplant.
Roshlind said the knowledge that her family is doing everything they can to save her life is keeping her strong.
“It would mean the world to me just to see that people care,” she said.
Roshlind’s sisters were tested, but they weren’t a match.
“I can’t stop until I find that match for my sister,” Adrienne San Juan said.
The odds for Roshlind are slim, her best chance now is a match from someone of the same ethnicity.
Canadian Blood Services told CTV News that only 0.9 per cent of the adult stem cell donor database is Filipino.
To increase her chances, the family held a stem cell donor registration event in Edmonton last weekend.
But Joel San Juan, Roshlind’s uncle, said Winnipeg has a fast-growing Filipino community with around 53,000 living in the city.
Roshlind is best friends with her cousin Keanne, Joel’s daughter. The pair have plans to pass their driving test and find part-time jobs.
It’s been hard on the whole family to see Roshlind’s life put on hold.
“Her life is on the line and so if she can’t find a donor in time it might be too late,” Keanne said.
Joel appealed to Winnipeggers to sign up, adding that it will increase the odds for other Filipino Canadians waiting for a match.
“There’s about 34 Filipino Canadians right now that are waiting for a stem cell transplant too,” he said.
The Match 4 Roshlind event takes place on Saturday November 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday November 4 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Cindy Klassen Recreation Complex.
The process involves a cheek swab and takes about 10 minutes. Candidates have to be healthy and between 17 and 35 years old.
If a match is found, there are two ways to donate stem cells.
Peripheral donation involves a series of intravenous injections where stem cells are separated from the blood.
The other method is through bone marrow donation, which involves surgery to retrieve cells from the pelvis.
Canadian Blood Services say stem cells replenish within about a month.
--- With a report from CTV Winnipeg’s Michelle Gerwing