More than 100 people came out to the Cupertino Library Saturday to donate cheek tissue swabs to go into the National Marrow Donor Program registry in hopes of finding a possible bone marrow match for Cupertino resident Jack Chin.
Chin, a graduate of Monta Vista High School, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia last July, and is desperately seeking a bone marrow transplant.
The three-hour registration drive was put on by the Asian American Donor Program, who was contacted by Chin’s twin brother Jim, in hopes of creating awareness and possibly finding a match for his brother.
According to AADP Senior Outreach Coordinator James de Lara, who facilitated Saturday’s drive, the number of people who came out to donate to the registry was abnormally high due to a large contingency of friends and former high school classmates of the Chin brothers.
“We were not really expecting to get over one hundred people, that’s a really exceptionally high turnout,” said de Lara. “I was surprised to see a lot of people who came out in support of Jack, most of whom were friends of him or his brother, or even classmates that he has not seen in years.
De Lara also said that many donors came after seeing a posting for the drive on the Save Jack From Leukemia Facebook page and reading about the donor opportunity on the Cupertino Patch Web site.
Sunnyvale resident and Monta Vista graduate Madhu Rupakula saw the posting on Facebook and used the call to action as a good excuse to help someone in need.
“I’ve always wanted to do this, so now is a good time because there is someone in need,” she said. “The thought that I could help someone somewhere gives me hope, and it would be an honor to help someone.”
Upon hearing the news of a great turnout, Chin was instantly thankful for the strong showing of support from the Monta Vista community.
“I’m really grateful for those who came out, I didn’t expect there would be so many people spreading the word,” he said. “There are some people who came out that I don’t remember talking to very much in high school or people I had one or two classes with that came by to donate, and it makes me feel good.”
Jim, who is younger than Jack by one minute, said he has been amazed that people took time out of their Saturday to stop by the library and donate to the cause.
“It’s been challenging but also heartwarming of the upswell of support who have donated their time and services,” he said. “It’s a really inspiring kind of feeling and the action helps put things into perspective.”
Jim, who considers himself as the “bigger and less-comical” version of Jack, has been reaching out to Asian American nonprofit and college organizations all over the state in hopes of creating partnerships to host marrow donor drives, most notably with alumni and student groups at UCLA where Jack studied economics prior to his diagnosis.
According to its Web site, the Be The Match Marrow Registry provides marrow transplants in the United States from volunteer unrelated donors to patients with leukemia, aplastic anemia and other potential life-threatening cancers. Donors are placed into the national registry until their 61st birthday and upon a match, could donate to transplant patients all over the world.
The AADP will be hosting another marrow donor drive at the Grand Century Mall on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1111 Story Road in San Jose.