Janet Liang dies 6 days after receiving bone marrow transplant

By Charles Lam
Northwest Asian Weekly

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Janet Liang launched a nationwide movement, registering over 20,000 new bone marrow donors. (Photo by Fern Lee)

Janet Liang, the young woman whose battle with cancer went viral online earlier this year, died Tuesday, Sept. 11, at MD Anderson hospital in Houston, Texas, six days after receiving a bone marrow transplant from a near perfect match. Her battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia started in 2009 while she was a student at UCLA. She went into remission after chemotherapy in 2010, before relapsing in December 2011.

Needing a matching bone marrow donor in 2012, she took her search online, publishing a video titled “Finding a Perfect Match for Janet – Her Personal Plea” in January. Her story garnered the attention of many YouTube celebrities, including Asian American filmmakers Wong Fu Productions, Ryan Higa, and Kevjumba, as well as Asian American hip hop group Far East Movement.

Their attention pushed her original video asking for help to more than 380,000 views.

Her search for a marrow donor kicked off hundreds of registration drives nationwide, registering more than 20,000 new bone marrow donors.

Finding a perfect bone marrow donor match is notoriously difficult, especially in minority communities as donor registration numbers are much lower.

Though she died young, she leaves behind a grand legacy.

“Janet served as an inspiration to all those who knew her,” said an update on the Helping Janet Facebook page. “Her big heart and big smile was something that we all cherished. And although she never fulfilled her dream of being a teacher, she has taught us all one very important lesson: love. Despite battling leukemia for 3 years, she always found it within her to make her situation more than about herself. Her campaign to raise awareness and advocate for bone marrow donors was for the love of her fellow human. She has certainly taught all of us to love one another, and live each day as if it were our last.” (end)

Donations for Janet’s funeral are being accepted by PayPal at helpingjanet@gmail.com. For more information about bone marrow donation and to register to become a bone marrow donor, visit www.marrow.com.

Charles Lam can be reached at charles@nwasianweekly.com.

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