After months searching for match, Edmonton man to receive stem cell transplant this week

An Edmonton man battling a rare blood cancer is scheduled to have a potentially life-saving stem cell transplant later this week.

Bille Nguyen is set to receive his transplant in Calgary on Thursday, one day after his sister Susan donates her stem cells.

Nguyen was originally scheduled to have his stem cell transplant over the summer, but it was postponed indefinitely in August because he was too sick for the procedure.

“It was a really, really rocky past couple of months of having the date for the transplant being pushed back multiple times, his cancer being out of control,” Susan Nguyen said Sunday.

“We’re really happy at this point and hopeful at this point that now we have a chance for him. We don’t know that it’s going to work but at least it’s a chance.”

Nguyen has Stage 4 subcutaneous panniculitis T-cell lymphoma. Nguyen, who turned 26 on Saturday, was diagnosed in January. Earlier this year, a doctor gave him a 10 per cent chance of survival unless he received a stem cell transplant over the summer.

Nguyen, who is of Asian descent, fought for months to find a donor. His Vietnamese-Chinese background made finding a match difficult, as only 16 per cent of registered donors on OneMatch are of Asian descent.

Nguyen’s three sisters were tested, and the family learned in early July that his sister Susan was a perfect match.

Watch below: Ongoing Global News coverage of Bille Nguyen’s journey to find a stem cell donor

Through his battle with cancer and search for a donor, Nguyen and his family have held several donor drives in hopes of raising awareness for stem cell donation and encouraging people of all backgrounds to become donors.

Another donor drive was held in Edmonton on Sunday with the aim of finding a match for Roshlind Mance. The 16-year-old girl was recently diagnosed with two life-threatening conditions: aplastic anemia and paroxysmal hemoglobinuria, diseases of the blood and bone marrow.

Mance needs a stem cell transplant from someone of Filipino descent, but no one in her family is a donor. Only one per cent of registered donors in Canada are of Filipino descent.

“We just urge everyone to please donate,” Mance’s sister Adrienne Sanjuan said at the event Sunday. “It could not only save my sister’s life but other Filipinos now on the waiting list as well and in the future. We just don’t want another family to go through the same heartbreak that we went through of not having a match.”

To find out more about stem cell donation, head to the Canadian Blood Services website.

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