By Jennie L. Ilustre
Rosslyn, Virginia–“This 15th anniversary means so much to me,” DC Asian Marrow Network Founder and President Ida Wang remarked, as 150 guests began to trickle in at the Banquet for Life celebration, held on October 6 at the China Garden restaurant here.
“When I started this organization to honor the memory of my nephew Andrew, I didn’t know it would have the support of so many people through the years,” she added. “I’m just so grateful to all of them.”
She thanked marrow donors, volunteers and benefactors. “Since 2006, we have raised over $58,000 to help the Asian Patient Assistance Program through the National Institute of Health’s Marrow Donor Programs and Be the Match Foundation,” she pointed out.
Ida acknowledged her Network team and her family. Her husband David is very supportive. “Ida is the heart of this organization, she works so hard,” he said in an interview. “Tonight, we celebrate life. Dr. Alan Kuo received his marrow transplant in 1997. Another survivor is now a father of twins.”
Standing in the wings as a potential successor is their daughter Leona Wang Bedrossian, Network corresponding secretary and like her mom, is a Be the Match Volunteer Certified Ambassador. Leona joined David Morgan in appealing for donors and volunteers. David has been the Marrow Donor Program coordinator at the National Institutes of Health for over 20 years.
Lots of people are also very grateful to Ida Wang, who has been helping saved lives through her organization. “Her name has been synonymous with marrow donations,” remarked David.
To make the 15th anniversary special, Ida and her supporters and friends raised $15,000 for Be the Match Foundation. On accepting the check, Foundation Director of Development Jennifer Sutch told Ida, “You are making a difference,” and presented her with a token from the Foundation, a crystal paperweight. She said she was touched by the Network’s video stories.
“The money will help add more donors to our Be the Match Registry,” she said in an interview. “Our critical need is from donors aged 18 to 44, and we need diverse donors and non-Caucasians.”
She joined Ida in urging those present to consider being a donor, or a volunteer. Each year, some 10,000 patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases need a marrow transplant, but only half of them get to receive it.
Jennifer said there was a public misconception that only relatives can be donors. People also think that minorities cannot be potential donors. Foundation data showed there are 720,000 potential adult Asian American donors, or about 7 per cent of the total potential donors. The figure is over 1 million for Hispanics or Latinos.
The Foundation website notes its Be The Match Registry (www.marrow.org) is the world’s largest and most diverse registry of potential marrow donors and donated cord blood units. With more than 10.5 million potential donors and nearly185,000 available cord blood units, its growing registry “is helping more patients than ever before get the transplant they need.”
Since Be the Match Foundation began in 1987, it has facilitated over 55,000 marrow, peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) and umbilical cord blood transplants. Last year, it facilitated more than 5,800 marrow, PBSC and umbilical cord blood transplants–an average of nearly 490 transplants a month.
The evening started with students of Dr. Tzi-Ming Yang’s Piano Studio performing before the main program started. Ennan Guan also delighted the audience with her songs, accompanied by Yusnbin Chen. Rev. Tom He of the Gaithersburg Chinese Alliance Church delivered the prayer and blessing before dinner.
Benefactors: Dr. D.W. Chen, Exxon Mobil Foundation, Herbert and Lani Lee (in memory of Andrew Lee), Cheng-How and Pauline H. Mao, Emily H.M. and Mathew Mao, Dr. David and Pauline Ting, David Y. Wang, Wang Global Wellness 4U, Silva and Thomas Woo.
Patrons: Gloria Ip and Lung Sang Cheung, Eva and Jau-Shi Jun, Daniel and Vany Kaiser; Esther and Nelson Lao, Robert P.H. and Fay K. Ing Lee, Tony Lin’s Restaurant-Rockville, Maryland, Papa Johns Pizza, and Sherman Wong and Lan Chau. Friends: China Garden Restaurant, Arlene Koby, Cecilia and Fred Mar, Dr. Myles Schneider, Ann Yee and Daniel Wong.
Other officers of the DC Asian Marrow Network are: Michael Koo, vice president; Dr. D.W. Chen, advisor; Pauline Ting, treasurer; Connie Yu, secretary; Gloria Ip, assistant secretary; Alfred Wang, Be the Match Volunteer Certified Ambassador; Rex Yuen, Event Chair; David Wang, Chair; Adam Bedrossian and Lung Sang Cheung, music, sound and video support; K.F. Chow and Daniel Yuen, photography support; and supporters Betty Lew, CCACC; Mary Tom, Thomas and Siva Woo, Jenny Yep, Rex and Liz Yuen and family; and Dr. Tzi-Ming Yang and his students.
The students who performed at the event were Katherine Xu, Shi-teng Wang, Karen Chen, Andy Wang, Vincent Ma and Emily Ma, Dotson Hsing, Clement Lee and Nathan Yen, Tiffany Yen and Wilson Lin.