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UC Davis Magazine

Volume 30 · Number 4 · Fall 2013

Alumni Profiles: Jason Tzou

'It's a miracle'

The two young men, smiling, one with arm draped around the other

Marrow donor Jason Tzou ’05 and recipient Jack Chin.

(Photo by Zynara Ng)

Fifteen months after donating his marrow, Jason Tzou ’05, of Sunnyvale, got a chance to meet the man whose life he saved — Jack Chin, a Cupertino man who was diagnosed at age 22 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Their meeting at a San José restaurant in July was arranged by the Asian American Donor Program.

Family and friends gathered to thank Tzou. “It’s a miracle,” said Chin’s mother, Ja-Nei Chin. “The love I have for Jack is small compared to the great love shared by Jason for saving Jack’s life.”

Chin, a UCLA alum, learned of his cancer in 2011. His brother, Jim, was not a marrow match. The odds of finding a suitable marrow or stem cell donor who is unrelated range from one in 20,000 to one in 100,000. Patients are most likely to match someone of the same ethnicity. Due to a shortage of ethnic minority donors, non-Caucasians are more likely to succumb to leukemia and other blood cancers.

Tzou and Chin attended the same high school, although they did not know each other.

The marrow donation came six years after Tzou had joined the national marrow and stem cell registry. A friend persuaded him to sign up during a health fair at Intuit, where Tzou worked.

About two months after learning that he was a match, Tzou traveled to Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., to donate his marrow. His parents were vacationing in Taiwan and South Korea, and he did not tell them. “The only person who really knew was my sister.”

His sister, Olivia, said: “I’m really proud of what my brother did, it’s so heroic to actually be able to save someone’s life. . . . I always knew that was the kind of brother he was.”

Tzou said “It’s not as scary as people say. It’s one of the easiest ways to save a life.”

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