Jeremy Chow’s priority was taking care of his family, says a close friend. The Saanich man died on May 30 from acute myeloid leukemia. The Chow family fought for more than two years to find a stem cell donor for Jeremy, who was of mixed Asian and European genetics. (Facebook/Match4Jeremy)

Jeremy Chow’s priority was taking care of his family, says a close friend. The Saanich man died on May 30 from acute myeloid leukemia. The Chow family fought for more than two years to find a stem cell donor for Jeremy, who was of mixed Asian and European genetics. (Facebook/Match4Jeremy)

Vancouver Island father dies of leukemia after battle to find mixed-race stem cell donor

Jeremy Chow fought to diversify donor pool

A Saanich father who fought to grow the data bank of mixed-race stem cell donors has died of leukemia.

Jeremy Chow was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in November 2018. While chemotherapy treatment worked and Jeremy entered remission, doctors advised that stem cell therapy would be the best possible treatment to eradicate the risk of returning cancer cells.

But when Jeremy and his wife Evelyn Chow began their quest to find a match, they learned there were virtually no donors in the national or worldwide registry who matched Jeremy’s genetic makeup – a requirement for a successful stem cell transplant.

READ ALSO: In a fight against cancer, Victoria man’s only stem cell match was his own donation

Ironically, Jeremy had applied to become a stem cell donor years earlier. When doctors searched the database they found one unusable match: his own donation. Shocked and saddened by the lack of options, the family spearheaded the Match4Jeremy campaign, organizing stem cell drives and raising awareness of the dire need for mixed race and Asian donors.

On Aug. 8, 2019, the family learned that Jeremy’s cancer had returned. But the Chows battle to find a match didn’t slow down. They worked with the Otherhalf-Chinese Stem Cell Initiative to host an emergency stem cell drive in Vancouver that month.

Despite their tireless efforts, Jeremy did not recover from the second round of cancer. The father of two died on May 30 with his wife at his side.

On a GoFundMe page aimed at raising money for his daughters’ educations, family friend Jenny Leung says Jeremy “fought hard” and did it with “grace, humour and a positive attitude.”

READ ALSO: Stem cell donor with rare genetic makeup needed to save Saanich man after cancer returns

“Jeremy’s priority was always being able to provide and take care of his family,” Leung writes. “He was so involved with his girls’ lives, from driving them to their extracurricular activities to attending school fairs, to braiding their hair and explaining to them the importance of a good education.

“He was always looking for a way to care for those around him whether it meant sharing knowledge, offering a helping hand, or just being there in any way he could,” she added. “Jeremy was truly someone to look up to and although he was always supporting others, he rarely asked for anything in return.”

Evelyn Chow (left) and Jeremy Chow with their daughters. The family fought for more than two years to find a stem cell match for Jeremy, who died from Acute Myeloid Leukemia on May 30. (Facebook/Match4Jeremy)

While the Chow family fought for a match for Jeremy, their crusade for stem cell donors gained momentum when they realized just how dire the situation was for mixed-race and Asian Canadians. Only three per cent of the Canadian Blood Services stem cell registry is mixed race.

In March 2019, Jeremy spoke with Black Press Media.

“If all of this goes well [and] I stay in remission, and the awareness is out there and other people sign up to be donors and other people are getting the help they need, then that’s a win,” he said.

Donations are being accepted via GoFundMe to support Jeremy’s family and his daughters’ future education.

READ ALSO: Victoria couple continues fight for increased diversity in Canadian stem cell registry

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
nina.grossman@blackpress.ca


@NinaGrossman
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CancerDonation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Nanaimo African Heritage Society is capping its month of Black History Month celebrations with a virtual gala on Sunday, Feb. 28. (News Bulletin photo)
Nanaimo African Heritage Society presents virtual Black History Month gala

Event to feature a variety of speakers and performers

(Black Press file)
Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools reports COVID-19 exposure at Cedar Elementary

School district says Island Health has completed contact tracing

(News Bulletin file)
RDN warns residents not to give financial info over phone

Resident hung up and called RDN after receiving call for credit card information

(Black Press file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Wexford Creek home in Nanaimo declared over

Social visits resume at south Nanaimo facility today, Feb. 27, says Island Health

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from the beach in rescue attempt in Nanaimo

Animal dies in spite of efforts of marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

1957 photo shows Six Mile House-sponsored #4 1932 Ford stock car with Frank Morris (from left), Ted Mackenzie, Bill Sim and driver Gerry Sylvester. (Bud Glover/Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame)
Memories race as Western Speedway approaches its finish line

‘It was life to us:’ Vancouver Island racers, crew will never forget what the track gave them

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Wayne Allen's graduation photo from Chemainus Secondary School. (Photo submitted)
Brother charged with murder in Vancouver Island teenager’s Ontario death

Jesse James Allen stands accused in the death of Wayne Allen, a 2020 Chemainus Secondary grad

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen to field COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A 50-year-old man was stabbed in an altercation that started with a disagreement about physical distancing. (File photo)
Argument about physical distancing leads to stabbing in Nanaimo

Suspect arrested on Gabriola Island an hour after incident Wednesday, Feb. 24

Snuneymuxw artist Eliot White-Hill, Kwulasultun is among the artists participating in the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Rain Shadow exhibit. His piece, ‘We Fell from the Sky/Together and Apart,’ depicts a Snuneymuxw creation story. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Art Gallery exhibit explores the ways people think about place

‘Rain Shadow’ features work mostly by Vancouver Island and Gulf Island artists

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Most Read