Jeremy Chow’s priority was taking care of his family, says a close friend. The Saanich man died on May 30 from acute myeloid leukemia. The Chow family fought for more than two years to find a stem cell donor for Jeremy, who was of mixed Asian and European genetics. (Facebook/Match4Jeremy)

Vancouver Island father dies of leukemia after battle to find mixed-race stem cell donor

Jeremy Chow fought to diversify donor pool

A Saanich father who fought to grow the data bank of mixed-race stem cell donors has died of leukemia.

Jeremy Chow was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in November 2018. While chemotherapy treatment worked and Jeremy entered remission, doctors advised that stem cell therapy would be the best possible treatment to eradicate the risk of returning cancer cells.

But when Jeremy and his wife Evelyn Chow began their quest to find a match, they learned there were virtually no donors in the national or worldwide registry who matched Jeremy’s genetic makeup – a requirement for a successful stem cell transplant.

READ ALSO: In a fight against cancer, Victoria man’s only stem cell match was his own donation

Ironically, Jeremy had applied to become a stem cell donor years earlier. When doctors searched the database they found one unusable match: his own donation. Shocked and saddened by the lack of options, the family spearheaded the Match4Jeremy campaign, organizing stem cell drives and raising awareness of the dire need for mixed race and Asian donors.

On Aug. 8, 2019, the family learned that Jeremy’s cancer had returned. But the Chows battle to find a match didn’t slow down. They worked with the Otherhalf-Chinese Stem Cell Initiative to host an emergency stem cell drive in Vancouver that month.

Despite their tireless efforts, Jeremy did not recover from the second round of cancer. The father of two died on May 30 with his wife at his side.

On a GoFundMe page aimed at raising money for his daughters’ educations, family friend Jenny Leung says Jeremy “fought hard” and did it with “grace, humour and a positive attitude.”

READ ALSO: Stem cell donor with rare genetic makeup needed to save Saanich man after cancer returns

“Jeremy’s priority was always being able to provide and take care of his family,” Leung writes. “He was so involved with his girls’ lives, from driving them to their extracurricular activities to attending school fairs, to braiding their hair and explaining to them the importance of a good education.

“He was always looking for a way to care for those around him whether it meant sharing knowledge, offering a helping hand, or just being there in any way he could,” she added. “Jeremy was truly someone to look up to and although he was always supporting others, he rarely asked for anything in return.”

Evelyn Chow (left) and Jeremy Chow with their daughters. The family fought for more than two years to find a stem cell match for Jeremy, who died from Acute Myeloid Leukemia on May 30. (Facebook/Match4Jeremy)

While the Chow family fought for a match for Jeremy, their crusade for stem cell donors gained momentum when they realized just how dire the situation was for mixed-race and Asian Canadians. Only three per cent of the Canadian Blood Services stem cell registry is mixed race.

In March 2019, Jeremy spoke with Black Press Media.

“If all of this goes well [and] I stay in remission, and the awareness is out there and other people sign up to be donors and other people are getting the help they need, then that’s a win,” he said.

Donations are being accepted via GoFundMe to support Jeremy’s family and his daughters’ future education.

READ ALSO: Victoria couple continues fight for increased diversity in Canadian stem cell registry

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
nina.grossman@blackpress.ca


@NinaGrossman
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CancerDonation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Three active COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island

Since July 24, Central island has had five new cases, North one, South none

Cheri Mactier celebrates 20 years in Ladysmith real estate

After 20 years in town, Mactier’s daughter, Brianne Mactier is joining the family business

Exhibit showcases one side of artist’s wide-ranging personality

Skagfeld takes something from all of her life experiences

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

First downtown parklet patio installed on 1st Avenue

Social distancing regulations will determine the total seat count

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

More than $800,000 in suspected cocaine seized from ship near Victoria

RCMP Dive Team suspects more narcotics had been stored below ship’s waterline

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

Hobo Cannabis renamed Dutch Love after backlash

Hobo Cannabis has various locations in Vancouver, Kelowna and Ottawa

Man accused of killing Red Deer doctor says he does not remember attack

Appearing before a judge, Deng Mabiour, 54, rambled about being sick and needing a doctor

Teen killer Kelly Ellard gets day parole extension, allowing up to 5 days at home

Ellard is serving a life sentence for the 1997 murder of 14-year-old Reena Virk

Andrew Scheer likely marking last day in House of Commons as Opposition leader

Today’s Commons sitting is one of two scheduled for August

Deaths feared after train derails amid storms in Scotland

Stonehaven is on the line for passenger trains linking Aberdeen with the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow

Most Read