Last week, I wrote about the story of acute myeloid leukemia patient Helen Huynh whose sister — a rare perfect stem cell match for Huynh — was repeatedly denied a temporary travel visa by US Department of Citizenship and Immigraion Services (USCIS) to visit the United States from her home in Vietnam so that she could donate her stem cells to save her sister’s life. The Asian American community has been outraged by USCIS’ inexplicable decision to deny Thuy Nguyen permission to travel to the United States, and as the family struggled to apply for emergency humanitarian parole for Nguyen — a move described by the family’s lawyers as a “hail mary” pass — Huynh’s life hung in the balance.
In an effort to help Huynh, Advancing Justice – Los Angeles and Advancing Justice – Orange County launched a sign-on letter and petition that garnered support from 1,100 community members and over 90 organizations, demanding that USCIS intervene to save Helen Huynh’s life. In addition, the Huynh family reached out to numerous elected officials including Senator Kamala Harris, Congressman J. Luis Correa, and Congressman Alan Lowenthal.
Now, Advancing Justice-LA has announced that these and other community efforts appear to have worked: USCIS has decided to grant humanitarian parole to allow Thuy Nguyen to travel to the United States and donate her stem cells to her sister.
60-year-old Helen Huynh’s health deteriorates daily as she waits to receive a stem cell donation that would save her life from the acute myeloid leukemia (AML) — a cancer of the bone marrow — that has ravaged her body. Over the last year, US immigration has repeatedly denied a travel visa to her sister, Thuy Nguyen, whose blood and bone marrow holds the key to saving Huynh’s life.
Now, Huynh’s life hangs in the balance, as her family scrambles to find legal help in their fight to appeal US immigration’s inexplicable denial of Nguyen’s travel visa.
The #170in7 bone marrow cyberdrive in memory of Janet Liang has only been live for a little over 24 hours, and already we’ve seen an incredible response from the community. As of late Tuesday and early Wednesday morning, we had still more sites partner up to help spread the word — bigWOWO, Kimchi Mamas, and Remembering Vincent Chin.
And on top of that, as of yesterday, we’ve already hit nearly 10% of our donor goal!
Help save a life today and be one of the 170 in 7. Registration is free for the donor, convenient and secure. Here’s how:
Although I only knew Janet through her online persona, Janet was an inspiration. She faced her cancer with courage and optimism, and funneled her energy to register countless folks in the national bone marrow registry, Be The Match. Recently, she received the Spirit of Hope award from A3M.
Janet, we may not have known one another, but I have been indelibly touched by your incredible spirit. You were a beautiful person, inside and out, and the world seems that much greyer without you.
For those of you who haven’t yet, please register to be a bone marrow donor at Be The Match. Bone marrow matches correlate strongly with shared racial identity between donor and recipient, and yet Asian Americans and other minorities remain profoundly underrepresented in the national donor registry. The registration process is simple, painless, convenient and free — and could one day save the life of someone with cancer.
Also, I’m going to take this moment to highlight a great Canadian non-profit organization whose name is oddly appropriate today: Fuck Cancer.