TFC News

Fil-Am leukemia patient's stem cell donor denied U.S. visa

Steve Angeles | TFC News Los Angeles

Posted at May 24 2023 09:35 PM

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A Filipino-American leukemia patient has appealed for help after her brother, who is supposed to be her stem cell donor, was denied a visa to the United States.

ICU and Recovery nurse Lynn Garcia knew something was wrong even after she recovered from COVID-19 in September 2022.

She was eventually diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. After several rounds of chemotherapy, it was discovered that her best cure would be a bone marrow transplant.

"I was back to work and I was doing okay until a week before I got diagnosed," she said. "Why was I so short of breath?"

Bone marrow matches are best found within the same ethnicity. But the National Marrow Donor program in the U.S. has less than a million Asians in its registry.

Despite the odds, Garcia found a rare 100-percent match in her brother who lives in Cebu Province back in the Philippines.

"I’m just relying on my brother who is thousands of miles away," Garcia added. "I don’t know how long my body or remission is going to stay with all this chemo."

Garcia added that she has tried different avenues, from reapplying, to asking her local U.S. representatives for help.

"We have all these documents. We have more but they don't tell you what you need," she said. "They just tell you that my brother is not eligible to be given this type of visa."

Garcia is also working with the National Marrow and Donor program to have her brother flown to South Africa, where his cells would be collected and then shipped to San Diego.

As her family waits for either a South African or U.S. visa, friends have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help with her legal expenses, as well as to cover the cost of her brother's travel.

Filipino community leaders in San Diego have vowed to do their part and host more registry drives in the area upon learning of Garcia's story.