The family of a woman who has been given just months to live, have launched an urgent plea for more people to join the stem cell register in a bid to save her life.
Yvette Chin, 41, from London, who is helping to refurbish Buckingham Palace as a senior project manager on the Reservicing and Operational Improvement Programme to protect the building for future generations, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in May 2021.
The palace is currently undergoing a £369million refurbishment, the biggest since before World War II.
After joining an experimental drug trial to treat the rare aggressive blood cancer, which unfortunately failed, Yvette’s only hope of survival is a stem cell donation.
Her family have launched a campaign calling for more people with east Asian heritage to join the stem cell register, because the donation needs to come from someone with a closely matched genetic profile.
Yvette Chin, 41, (pictured) from London, has been given three months to live as her family struggle to get a stem cell donation that matches her genetic profile
Yvette’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.
Colin 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.’
Yvette has been in and out of hospital for chemotherapy since her diagnosis.
She turned 41 in October and managed a weekend out of hospital, where she watched the latest James Bond film with her brother.
Yvette (pictured), who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in May 2021, didn’t respond to an experimental drug trial earlier this year
WHAT IS ACUTE LYMPHOBLASTIC LEUKAEMIA?
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is a type of blood cancer that starts from young white blood cells in the bone marrow.
There are around 810 new cases in the UK every year. In the US, ALL affects approximately 1.7 adults per 100,000.
Anyone can develop ALL, however, it mainly affects younger people.
Many ALL symptoms are vague and flu-like, such as:
- General weakness
- Frequent infections
- Bruising or bleeding easily, including nosebleeds, heavy periods and blood in the urine or faeces
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bone or joint pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Feeling full
- Paler skin than normal
Risks for developing ALL include exposure to radiation, smoking, being overweight and having a weak immune system.
Research suggests being breastfed and exposed to childhood infections may reduce a person’s risk.
The main ALL treatment is chemotherapy. Patients may also have radiotherapy, steroids or bone marrow transplants.
Source: Cancer Research UK
She then joined an experimental drug trial but was told in February 2022 that she had not responded.
Medics told Yvette 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.
Yvette 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.’
Yvette’s family have launched a campaign calling for more people with east Asian heritage to join the stem cell register
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, added: ‘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.’