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Liyna Anwar, 30, Dies; Publicized Inequities in Stem Cell Registry

Liyna Sereen Anwar was born on Sept. 21, 1989, in Mission Viejo, Calif., to Siddique and Sajida (Ikramuddin) Anwar. Her father, an engineer, and her mother, a medical assistant, immigrated to the United States from India before she was born.

She graduated from Trabuco Hills High School in Mission Viejo in 2007, then earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2011. Working at a local newspaper and on a college radio station fostered her interest in journalism.

Her brother said that growing up as a Muslim Indian-American in a predominantly white milieu influenced her to pursue stories of “people who aren’t as out there in the open.”

Ms. Anwar produced podcasts and radio content for outlets like NPR, The Los Angeles Times and StoryCorps. Her brother said that she preferred reporting stories to sharing her own, and it took some coaxing to persuade her to use her illness to highlight the shortage of South Asian stem cell donors.

At StoryCorps, a nonprofit that records and preserves the tales of ordinary people, Ms. Anwar helped produce radio segments featuring John Torres Jr., who reminisced about his father, a masked Mexican-style wrestler; Josh Stepakoff, who discussed an anti-Semitic shooting he survived in 1999; and the brothers of Balbir Sodhi, a Sikh man who was killed in a hate crime after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

She joined The Los Angeles Times as a senior podcast producer in 2018, the same year her leukemia was diagnosed. One of her final projects was producing “Asian Enough,” a podcast about Asian-American identity. She continued working on it from a hospital bed when her condition worsened.

Ms. Anwar lived with her parents in Mission Viejo after she learned she had leukemia. Her brother and parents are her only immediate survivors.

Ms. Anwar’s efforts to raise awareness about disparities in stem cell and bone marrow donors live on. Ms. McDermott said Be the Match was still registering donors in Ms. Anwar’s name on its website.


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