IMPACT

Mai Duong, Leukemia Patient, Leaves Isolation And Heads Home

11/03/2014 12:18 EST | Updated 01/03/2015 05:59 EST
maiduong
Mai Duong had expected to be home by Christmas. 

After months in hospital, the 34-year-old mother, who is fighting a very public battle against leukemia, was told she would be well enough to leave her isolation room six to eight weeks after her stem cell graft. 

But just four weeks after the procedure, Duong was told she could go home to her family. 

"I'm still in shock!" she posted to her Facebook page Monday morning.

"That’s a really fast recovery! I sure hope everything continues to go well."

Duong's case of acute leukemia, first diagnosed in January 2013, relapsed in May of this year — just 10 months after being given a clean bill of health from her doctor.

Her desperate search for a bone marrow or stem cell match was hampered by the fact that the pool of possible donors was limited by her Vietnamese ancestry.

Only 19 per cent of bone marrow donors in Quebec are non-white and just 4.7 per cent of blood donors in Quebec are of visible minorities. Just one per cent of the bone marrow registry is composed of Vietnamese people.

Duong took her plea public in the summer, appealing to all visible minorities to consider adding their name to the registry. 

In September, she announced a stem cell match, from an umbilical cord blood donor, had been found. 

Then, in late October, her doctors told her they had the first sign that there was engraftment from her new stem cells.  

"We will have full confirmation in the next few weeks, but it's looking good," she wrote. 

Challenging year ahead

Duong said her health is still weak and will be for the next year.

However, she was able to cautiously venture out with her daughter on Halloween. 

The first four months after the transplant are considered the most critical and she said she will be checking in with the hospital regularly because of the ongoing risk of infection and complications. 

Because of that risk, she said she'll only be providing updates through social media.

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