Swab The World was founded by Mai Duong, a Canadian leukemia survivor of Vietnamese descent.
Mai was diagnosed with leukemia not once, but twice. The first time, a routine blood test during her second pregnancy revealed the disease. Her world shattered. She had to terminate her pregnancy immediately and was then put through aggressive chemo, in isolation from her husband and 3-year-old daughter for over a month. But she beat it, like the fierce cancer ninja that she is. She went back home and resumed her life.
Less than 10 months later, leukemia came back with a vengeance. And it was not going to be an “easy” ride like the first time round. This time, she would need a stem cell transplant to survive.
She was crushed to learn that non-Caucasian patients (Blacks, Asians, Middle-Eastern, Indians, Hispanics, etc.) and mixed-race patients had much lower match rates than their Caucasian counterparts. Why?
Because these ethnicities are underrepresented in the World Marrow Donor Association database of the world’s 33 million potential stem cell registered donors. This basically means that if you’re not White, your chances of surviving are smaller.
While looking death in the eye, Mai vowed that if she survived, she would tackle this huge problem. No way was she going to sit on her hands and watch as huge swaths of the population died simply due to a lack of donors. She finally received a successful umbilical cord stem cell transplant in October 2015.
Today, Mai is stronger than ever, and she’s on a mission to get the rest of us to register and save more lives.