Doctor-turned-patient awaits bone marrow transplant: registry event set for Dec. 2

November 28, 2014

Randy DeTarr, scoutmaster for Dr. Yew’s son and an organizer of the donor event to be held at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in Cypress, Calif., says, “I got involved because I found out that the Korean community has very little representation in the bone marrow registry.” 

Dr. Jay Yew

Dr. Jay Yew

By Tae Hong

Urologic surgeon Dr. Jay Yew probably had no idea when he completed his fellowship training in cancer surgery at City of Hope Center in Duarte, Calif., that he would be back one day sitting in the patient’s chair.

It’s the reality the 46-year-old father to three now faces as a blood cancer patient in need of a bone marrow transplant.

A screening event to help find a donor for the Korean American doctor will be held at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in Cypress, Calif., on Dec. 2.

The Blood and Platelet Drive and Bone Marrow Screening Event is being organized by Boy Scout Troop 670, of which Yew is a member.

Yew practices at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Downey, Calif.; before then, he was at Sharp Medical Center in San Diego. He has a wife, Jenny, as well as an 11-year-old son and two daughters who are 9 and 7 years old.

He was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a form of blood cancer, on Sept. 11 this year.

“If I do go for my bone marrow transplant, I will be returning to City of Hope, but as a patient this time,” Yew said.

According to Randy DeTarr, scoutmaster for Yew’s son and an organizer of the event, the condition requires up to eight cycles of rigorous hospital-based chemotherapy over the first year of diagnosis.

The best chance for a cure, Yew said, is a bone marrow transplant.

“The chemotherapy required me to stay in the hospital for almost four to six weeks at a time, and oftentimes my kids cannot visit because my blood counts are so low, and I am prone to infections after chemo,” Yew said.

Yew said in an email sent to friends that his brother is not a bone marrow match for him and that the search, in his case, is out primarily for people who are 18 to 44 years old and of Asian and, more specifically, Korean descent.

He linked to a YouTube video in his email.

“Started to lose some hair in clumps, so I just had the kids shave it all off,” he said.

According to Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches, 12,000 people across the U.S. need bone marrow donors each year, and someone is diagnosed with blood cancer every four minutes.

The event will be held by Be The Match, the largest marrow registry in the world. Currently, Asians make up 7 percent of 10 million registered Be The Match donors.

DeTarr said he urges anyone interested in helping both Yew and others like him to come out to the screening. Donors need to be at least 17 years of age and weigh at least 110 pounds, he said.

“I got involved because I found out that the Korean community has very little representation in the bone marrow registry,” DeTarr said. “Since this is a cancer (for which) someone can actually help [Jay] survive, I feel we can make a difference in someone’s life, hopefully his.”

Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church is located at 5895 Ball Rd., Cypress, CA 90630.

The event will be held 3 p.m to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2. Call 626-251-6258 for more information.


  1. Randy DeTarr

    November 28, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    Please help you may need it some day. It’s the season of giving…Give Life!!!

  2. Dr. Jay

    November 28, 2014 at 10:55 PM

    Thank you to all for your love and support!
    God Bless you!
    -Dr. Jay Yew

  3. William Craig

    September 15, 2015 at 10:41 AM

    I am devastated over learning of your cancer. You saved my life in 2006, the Navy Fighter Pilot. You are blessed to have a loving extended family so deeply committed to Christ. I am praying for you and your family Jay. You are an amazing human who has touched so many in your life.
    Very Sincerely and with Deepest Respect, Bill Craig

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  5. Stephanie Elgart

    September 28, 2015 at 1:57 PM

    Dr. Yew,
    I too am devastated to learn this news. I had the privilege of working with you as your nurse at Sharp Urology. You were the first doctor that I worked with who showed great humanity and a deep caring for your patients. They all loved you and appreciated you. I learned a great deal working with you and want to thank you. I will be praying for you, your family, your well-being and the perfect donor.
    May god bless and keep you,
    Stephanie Elgart, LVN

  6. in children

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    November 5, 2017 at 1:27 AM