Plea to find stem cell donor for woman refurbishing Buckingham Palace

East Asian people are being encouraged to join the stem cell registry.

09 March 2022

A desperate plea has been launched to find a life-saving stem cell match for a woman who is helping to refurbish Buckingham Palace.

Yvette Chin’s brother launched a campaign calling for more people with east Asian heritage to join the stem cell register in a bid to save her life.

The 41-year-old from London is a senior project manager working on the Buckingham Palace Reservicing and Operational Improvement Programme to protect the building for future generations.

But in May 2021 she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a rare aggressive blood cancer, and she only has months to live.

People are being urged to join the stem cell register (PA)

Her only hope is a stem cell donation but it needs to come from someone with a closely matched genetic profile, meaning she needs a donor with east Asian heritage.

Ms Chin’s brother Colin and sister-in-law Serena are calling on the east Asian community in the UK and internationally to sign up to either the Anthony Nolan register, the one run by DKMS or the British Bone Marrow Registry.

Mr Chin said: “Our family has registered but it’s not enough.

“I hope if more people from the community know how quick and easy it is to do, and that it’s literally life saving, we can find a match.

“Not just for Yvette, but also for others who don’t have time to wait. I’m asking for everyone to sign up and share #SwabForYvette on social media to spread awareness that we all have the power to save lives with a simple mouth swab.”

Ms Chin has been in and out of hospital since her diagnosis for chemotherapy.

She turned 41 in October and managed a weekend out of hospital and watched the latest James Bond film with her brother.

She then joined an experimental drug trial but was told in February 2022 that she had not responded.

Medics told her that her only hope is a stem cell donation and if she fails to find a match she only has three to six months to live.

Ms Chin has only months to live (PA)

Ms Chin said: “There are others in my situation right now, and there will be more in the future.

“People, who like me want to see their nieces, nephews, sons and daughters grow up.

“The more people who sign up right now, the more likely there will be a bone marrow match for me and countless others.”

Terence Lovell, chief engagement and marketing officer at Anthony Nolan, said: “To be told there is no stem cell donor for you, because of your ethnicity, will have been devastating to hear. We are doing everything we can to support Yvette and her family during this difficult time.

“You have a one in three chance of finding your perfect genetic match on the stem cell register if you’re from a minority ethnic background.

“We must change the odds, which is why we’re calling on young people from east Asian backgrounds aged 16-30 to join the Anthony Nolan register.

“Every single person who signs up to the register has the potential to give hope to someone, like Yvette, who is in desperate need of a life-saving stem cell transplant. Together, we can work towards a future where ethnicity does not influence who survives blood cancer.”

Beverley Lin, centre director of the London Chinese Community Centre, said: “Our community must come together and Swab For Yvette, for our brothers, our sisters, our mothers and fathers.

“There are relatively few Chinese people on the blood donor register and it’s within our community’s grasp to fix this, right away, and save lives.”

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