07/17/2014 11:37 EDT | Updated 09/16/2014 05:59 EDT

Vietnamese community rallies support for leukemia patient Mai Duong

Mai Duong’s crusade to find a compatible bone marrow or stem cell donor in Quebec has again pushed the issue of under-representation of non-white donors into the spotlight.

Duong is Vietnamese, and needs a Vietnamese donor to help save her from acute leukemia.

The problem is, only one per cent of people on the Quebec and international donor registries are of Vietnamese descent.

There is no bone marrow registry at all in Vietnam, according to Héma-Québec.

​Duong's husband Vlad Stesin said a transplant is her best hope of survival. This is her second bout with the disease since being diagnosed in January 2013.

NDP MP Hoang Mai and other members of Montreal’s Vietnamese community held a news conference Thursday to raise awareness about the under-representation of Vietnamese — and all non-white donors — in the blood and tissue bank.

In Quebec, just 4.7 per cent of blood donors are visible minorities; 19 per cent of bone marrow donors are non-white.

Mai swabbed the inside of his cheek at the news conference to demonstrate how easy it is to sign up to the bone marrow registry.

Doctors Olivier Diec from Charles-LeMoyne Hospital and Ba-Khoa Nguyen were also at the news conference, along with Duong’s husband and parents.

Duong is currently in at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital awaiting a donor. She said it’s the only way she can have a fighting chance of beating leukemia.  

Héma-Québec said people who want to donate umbilical cord stem cells or bone marrow to their bank can register online to receive a DNA swab test in the mail or call 514-832-5000.