Lifeline: UTM Blood & Stem Cell Society collaborated with Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network last Tuesday to recruit donors at UTM.
Held in the CCT Building, the aim of the event was for students to learn about stem cell donations and register with OneMatch in order to be matched with potential patients.
“[For] patients with leukemia, aplastic anemia, or any blood cancers, the only hope that they sometimes have is a stem cell transplant,” said Lilet Raffinan, who works as a territory manager for Canadian Blood Services. “When they need a stem cell transplant their only hope is to get that from people, [whether] unrelated or their siblings.”
However, Raffinan explained that patients’ chances of finding a match in their own family is only 25%. When there is none, the best chance for patients to find a match is from within their own ethnic background.
“We are really engaging and encouraging all ethnic backgrounds to come and join,” said Raffinan. “It’s like winning the lottery for the patient if you are matched.”
According to the CBS website, patients are more likely to find a stem cell match from within their own ethnic group. The Globe and Mail reported earlier this month that 71% of the current registrants are Caucasian.
“I feel it’s important to spread awareness of stem cell donation because it’s a small gesture that could save someone’s life,” said Saamia Siddiqui, a volunteer at the event. “I myself didn’t know much about it until my close family friend was diagnosed with leukemia and was in need of a donor.”
When individuals register, they do not immediately become a donor. They make themselves available in case they can be found to be a match.
Currently, there are nearly 1,000 patients waiting for stem cell transplants in Canada. While the registry holds 350,000 donors willing to donate and Canadian Blood Services’ national network allows them to access 27 million donors, they still can’t find a match for all patients.
By 3 p.m. on Tuesday, OneMatch had approximately 70 UTM students registered.
“I am so glad many people came out to learn and register,” said Siddiqui.
If students are still interested in registering, they can do so through onematch.ca, whereupon a swabbing kit will be delivered to their home.