Community Leaders

Jeff Chiba Stearns – Filmmaker

A decade ago, Jeff Chiba Stearns received a message from a friend about a university student of Chinese and Caucasian descent who had been diagnosed with leukemia, and was in need of a bone marrow transplant. Like most of us, Jeff was unaware of the challenges ethnically diverse patients often face in the search for a stem cell donor and that a patient’s chance of survival is linked to their heritage. Being of Japanese and European descent himself, this realization hit close to home.

To help educate and inspire more people of mixed ethnic diversity to register to become potential donors, the Canadian filmmaker embarked on what was to become a six-year journey. Jeff took on the task of meeting and interviewing patients and medical experts, an effort that resulted in his award winning documentary, Mixed Match.

A partly animated film, Mixed match follows the lives of multi-ethnic cancer patients, giving viewers a glimpse into their homes and fears during the search for compatible stem cell donors.

Jeff even got his own family involved. When his wife gave birth to their first child in 2015, he not only captured the momentous occasion for the film, but he and his wife donated their child’s umbilical cord blood at BC Women’s Hospital. Jeff is also registered with OneMatch as a donor himself.

Since its debut at the Vancouver International Film Festival last year, Jeff has been screening Mixed Match at film festivals, universities and community venues across North America. With each screening, a swabbing event is held to recruit eligible audience members to become potential donors of stem cells or umbilical cord blood. Thousands of people, inspired by Mixed Match, have registered. The film has also been featured on CBC, NBC, ABC, Vice and Huffington Post.

Ordinary citizens like Jeff who do extraordinary things are what makes our province great. I want to congratulate Jeff for his amazing efforts to help save lives by spreading knowledge of the importance of Stem Cell donations.