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San Tan Valley Cancer Survivor Meets Life-saving Stem Cell Donor


In a heartwarming story of resilience, survival, and selflessness, 20-year-old Mesa Orth from San Tan Valley is gearing up for a memorable encounter. On Saturday, October 21, 2023, she finally came face-to-face with the man who gave her a second chance at life - by donating his blood stem cells.

Mesa's fight with fate began in her high school sophomore year when she showed troubling symptoms. The following visits to various doctors culminated in a daunting diagnosis: she was grappling with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). After a challenging and unsuccessful bout with chemotherapy, the lifeline she desperately needed was a blood stem cell transplant. With hope in their hearts, Mesa and her family turned to DKMS, renowned as the world's largest blood stem cell donor center.

DKMS notes that a staggering 70% of individuals diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, and other blood-related cancers often find salvation in donors outside their families. But Mesa's journey had another twist. Being an adopted child of Chinese heritage, her chances of finding a matching donor slimmed further. It's a poignant reminder of how minorities, especially Asians constituting just 7%, are underrepresented in the donor registry. The importance of ethnic diversity is crucial in such situations since matching probabilities are higher among donors and recipients from similar backgrounds.

Enter Benjamin Qiu, a New York City-based social media influencer and photographer. Himself of Asian descent, Ben received life-changing news: he was a match for a teenager in dire need, fighting AML. Remembering the time he first grasped the pressing need for donors and subsequently registered during a DKMS drive on his college campus half a decade ago, Ben stepped forward. Without hesitation, he donated his stem cells, becoming Mesa's beacon of hope and ensuring her survival.

The culmination of this saga of hope, perseverance, and generosity was on full display. Mesa and Ben met for the very first time this Saturday, at her grandfather's residence in Mesa, AZ.
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Thursday, 13 June 2024

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