Blood stem cell donor meets 15-year-old whose life he saved in Los Angeles

California

It was a heartfelt meeting, as San Jose resident Chuck Woo met the 15-year-old with blood cancer whose life he saved.

Woo met Darrian Lu for the first time Thursday in downtown Los Angeles. Lu, an Alameda teen on the autism spectrum, had been battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia for two years. Woo was his blood stem cell donor.

“As soon as I knew I was a match, I said, absolutely, there’s no question about it. As a parent, I wanted to help potentially save a life,” said Woo.

  • Be The Match donor Chuck Woo meets 15-year-old Darrian Lu,...

    Be The Match donor Chuck Woo meets 15-year-old Darrian Lu, who has been battling blood cancer, at an event in Los Angeles Thursday, May 11. (Photo courtesy of Kate McDermott/Be The Match)

  • Be The Match donor Chuck Woo hugs Darrian Lu’s family...

    Be The Match donor Chuck Woo hugs Darrian Lu’s family members at an event Thursday, May 11, 2023 in downtown Los Angeles. 15-year-old Lu had been battling blood cancer for years. (Photo courtesy of Kate McDermott/Be The Match)

  • Be The Match donor Chuck Woo meets 15-year-old Darrian Lu,...

    Be The Match donor Chuck Woo meets 15-year-old Darrian Lu, who has been battling blood cancer, at an event in Los Angeles Thursday, May 11. (Photo courtesy of Kate McDermott/Be The Match)

  • Be The Match donor Chuck Woo meets the Lu family...

    Be The Match donor Chuck Woo meets the Lu family at an event Thursday, May 11, 2023 in downtown Los Angeles. 15-year-old Darrian Lu had been battling blood cancer, and Woo was his blood stem cell donor. (Photo courtesy of Kate McDermott/Be The Match)

In November 2021, Lu had his life-changing transplant at the Oakland Children’s Hospital. He said he was excited and grateful to meet Woo for the first time.

The emotional reunion was made possible by nonprofit Be the Match, which helps patients with life-threatening blood cancers find bone marrow and stem cell donors, increasing access to cellular therapy.

Nearly half of the registry’s Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander patients currently do not have a matching blood stem cell donor on the Be The Match registry.

Organizers say eligible donors can help increase those odds by joining the free registry, with a health history form and a cheek swab sample, through a kit sent to their home. Anyone who meets healthy guidelines is welcome, and more donors of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, and between the ages of 18 and 35, are most urgently needed.

As part of its campaign effort to reach more donors during Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Be The Match hosted a special live-streamed concert in Little Tokyo with singer-songwriter AJ Rafael, who is also a blood stem cell donor.

There are upcoming swab drives and donor events in L.A. and the Inland Empire. Visit BetheMatch.com for details and a list of events.

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