Child of mixed Afghan-Vietnamese descent struggling to find a genetic match for stem cell transplant
As a child of mixed Afghan-Vietnamese descent, Aaryan is struggling to find a genetic match
CBC News Posted: Dec 29, 2015 7:53 PM ET Last Updated: Dec 30, 2015 9:17 AM ET
Aaryan has aplastic anemia. There is no cure, but a stem cell transplant could save his life. He just needs to find the right donor.
“He’s a beautiful and intelligent boy and he doesn’t deserve this,” his mother Jenny Dinh told CBC News.
Aaryan’s body isn’t producing blood cells, leaving him vulnerable to infection and uncontrolled bleeding. On Dec. 20, he suffered from internal hemorrhaging that sent him to The Hospital for Sick Children. He’s been there since.
“They were able to stabilize him within 36 hours,” Dinh said. “So 36 hours of constant blood transfusions, constant steroids, constant care.”
(…)His best chance is a stem cell transplant. But his rare genetic heritage — he has an Afghan father and Vietnamese mother — makes finding a donor difficult.
“Each ancestral group has different genetic markers so, of course, when you have two parents who are from a different ancestry it makes it much more of a challenge,” Dena Mercer, a spokeswoman for OneMatch stem cell and marrow network at Canadian Blood Services, told CBC News.
Seeking Middle Eastern, Asian donors
The Caledon boy has huge support network of doctors, nurses, friends, family who have launched a campaign to find a stem cell match to save his life.
They are targeting people with Middle Eastern and Asian ethnicities, especially Vietnamese, Afghan and Central Asian.
“For every person that we can get to register, it’s a chance for Aaryan or it’s a chance for somebody else,” Dinh said. “It’s a gift of life that any living human being could provide.”
Registration drives have been held for Aaryan in Toronto, Vancouver and the United States. His family and friends have also made appeals through ethnic media.
“It’s such a rare condition. As parents, we didn’t know anything about this so we need to educate, we need to get this out there,” Aaryan’s father Khalid Ali said.
Testing for possible donors involves a simple cheek swab. Anyone who wants to be tested is encouraged to visit www.match4aary.com and register. Ali said the family is grateful to everyone who has already come forward.
In the meantime, they have vowed to keep fighting.
“We’ve made a promise to each other that he be strong for us and we be strong for him,” Dihn said. “We’re not going to break that promise.”
With files from CBC’s Marivel Taruc