Jason Cheung was really hoping to tell his story.
The 23-year-old York University physics student was going to explain to a news conference Friday morning how his search for a matching stem-cell donor had so far proven fruitless, and how the acute myeloid leukemia, which a marrow transplant could have cured, had brought him to the brink of death.
But Cheung won’t be there. His blood cancer, eminently treatable with the stem cells replete in healthy donor marrow, has put him in the intensive care unit of a Toronto hospital, where his search may well be over.
But Susan Go hopes Cheung’s missing narrative will still be heard.
And Go, co-chair of the National Chinese Stem Cell Drive, hopes it will help prompt thousands of Chinese Canadians to enter this country’s stem-cell database, so avoidable tragedies like Cheung’s won’t be repeated.
“This is what we’re confronting in the Chinese community ... it’s like a death sentence,” says Go.
The conference is also being held by the One Match stem-cell and marrow network.
Chinese Canadians make up only two per cent — or some 5,000 entrants — of this country’s stem-cell registry. Internationally, people of Chinese heritage make up an exceedingly small and disproportionate two per cent of global databases.
By contrast, Caucasians make up 82 per cent of Canada’s registry.