Yvette, exploring Indonesia

Brother of ‘adventure loving’ woman makes appeal for people from East Asian backgrounds to join the stem cell donor register

March 15, 2022
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Yvette Chin is 41, from London and describes herself as an explorer. She loves to travel and makes friends wherever she goes — whether it’s at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro or cycling around the Outer Hebrides. When she isn’t backpacking, Yvette works to refurbish and maintain iconic buildings in London, from Buckingham Palace to the Barbican.

In May 2021, she was given the news that she may only have a few months to live after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a rare form of blood cancer. Yvette’s family discovered that only one in every four people in the UK will have a matching stem cell donor in their family and that she would need a stranger to give her a second chance at life.

Yvette’s donor is most likely to have a similar ethnic background to her, meaning her donor will likely need to have East Asian heritage. People who are White have a 72% chance of finding the best possible matching stem cell donor. This, unfortunately, drops to just a 37% chance for patients from minority ethnic backgrounds.

The Chin family are working tirelessly with charities including Anthony Nolan to raise awareness of the need for more donors from East Asian backgrounds to join the UK stem cell register to give more families hope.

'Our family has registered, but it’s not enough' Yvette’s brother Colin, says. 'I hope if more people from the community know how quick and easy it is to do, and that it’s literally lifesaving, we can find a match. Not just for Yvette, but for others who don’t have time to wait.'

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.’

Terence Lovell, Chief Engagement & 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 lifesaving stem cell transplant. Together, we can work towards a future where ethnicity does not influence who survives blood cancer’.

If you’re from a Chinese or East Asian background and are aged between 16 and 30, you can offer Yvette, and so many others just like her, a glimmer of hope by signing up at anthonynolan.org/swab4yvette.