News Walthamstow

Walthamstow woman has months to live unless genetic match found

Joining the register is simple, easy and could save a life
By Victoria Munro

Yvette wants a chance to see her niece and nephew grow up (courtesy of family)
Yvette wants a chance to see her niece and nephew grow up (courtesy of family)

A Walthamstow woman has been told she has only months to live unless a suitable bone marrow donor can be found. 

Yvette Chin, 41, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a rare aggressive blood cancer, last May and has exhausted all forms of treatment except a stem cell transplant.

The transplant requires a 90% genetic match and sadly there were no suitable donors in her family, meaning she now has a race against time to find someone else. 

Her loved ones are urging people of East Asian descent to join the bone marrow transplant register and complete a simple mouth swab test in the hopes of saving her life.

Her family said: “Yvette is much loved and makes friends wherever she goes. She’s been asked to be maid of honour so many times, she finally had to say she’d never do it again! 

“She’s an explorer, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with her best friend Matt, and taking a cycling trip around the remote Hebrides with her friend Mel.

“She’s deeply unmaterialistic: motivated by fun, kindness, beauty, friendship and adventure, not money and status. Yvette has so much left to give, and things she wants to do: seeing her niece and nephew grow up, new travels and projects.”

Yvette trained in architecture and urban regeneration and has worked as a project manager for Waltham Forest Council, the Barbican and the Royal Household. 

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A highlight of her career was getting the Design Museum “opened on time and on budget” after it moved to its new Kensington location in 2016.

Sadly, because she is not white, Yvette has a far lower chance of finding a donor on the register, especially as she is of mixed Chinese and Jamaican descent. 

Joining a donor register involves swabbing the inside of your cheek and sending the swab to a lab for genetic testing. New stem cells are constantly produced in healthy bone marrow, meaning the donor doesn’t lose anything in the process. 

There are three main registers in the UK. People aged 18-30 can register with Anthony Nolan and people aged 18-55 can register with DKMS. The British Bone Marrow Registry accepts people aged 17 to 40, you register when you donate blood.

Yvette’s brother Colin said: “I hope if more people from the community know how quick and easy it is to do, and that it’s literally life saving, we can find a match. Not just for Yvette, but also for others who don’t have time to wait. 

“I’m asking for everyone to sign up and share #SwabForYvette on social media to spread awareness that we all have the power to save lives with a simple mouth swab.”

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