Family appeals for compatible stem-cell donor after leukemia strikes

(April 15, 2011) – In December of last year, the life of Dr. Shireen Obaid Qureshi dramatically changed.

She was diagnosed with leukemia — or more specifically, acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

Shireen must have a stem-cell transplant and is actively seeking a donor as no one in her family has proved a match.

She is going through her third session of chemotherapy at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital and is now in remission.

Chemotherapy is meant to kick the leukemia into remission so a stem-cell transplant could be done.

The family is appealing to the public to join the national Stem Cell and Marrow Network registry run by the OneMatch division of the Canadian Blood Services.

Anyone could be a match, although the chances are slightly better if an individual is, like Shireen, of East Indian heritage.

 “We are looking for stem cell donors from South Asian heritage as they have a greater chance of providing a match,” the family says.

Dr. Shireen Obaid Qureshi lives in Toronto with her husband and three children.

Her husband is an Electrical Engineer and her three children are students – eldest daughter, Reema is in medical school; her son, Mohsin, is studying computer engineering and youngest daughter, Madiha, is in high school.

 “I request my sisters and brothers to come forward and be part of this campaign that can save lives of many people, including myself, and be a source of providing happiness to the affected families,” Shireen said.

Right now over 800 Canadian patients are in desperate need of a stem cell to treat potentially life-threatening illnesses and they depend on the generosity of people.

70% of stem cell matches come from the unrelated search (outside the family) provided by the One Match Stem Cell and Marrow Network in Canada. 

Currently over 266,000 donors are on the registry. 

More registrants are needed to save the life of Shireen Obaid Qureshi and other patients on the waiting list.

A OneMatch Registration /Buccal Swab clinic will be held on April 30th in Scarborough at the Islamic Foundation High School in hopes of finding a stem cell match for Shireen and other patients waiting to have their lives saved.

You could be the match Shireen and her family has been praying for.

The test is simple — requiring just a swab from the inside cheek. It can even be done at home, by requesting a test kit through The site also has excellent information on stem-cell transplants, who is eligible and what a donor can expect.

Or you can go to the clinic:

Date:  April 30th

Time:  8am-8pm

Location:  Islamic Foundation School, 432 Nugget Avenue, Scarborough, ON M1S 4J.

For more information, please contact:

Yahya Qureshi: 416-697-4415; Obaid Manzar: 647-864-8755; Shahab Manzar: 416-884-7998; Azra Khalid: 905-305-8365; Shehzad Rauf: 647-802-1293; Khurram Rauf: 647-831-1462