Everyone knows about giving blood, but fewer people are aware of the need for stem cell donors. And an upcoming event at Brock hopes to help change that.
The Faculty of Applied Health Sciences is hosting a student-led OneMatch Swabbing Event at Brock on Monday, Oct. 31. With a quick bucchal swab, potential donors can be entered in a database. The public is encouraged to attend.
Stem cell and marrow are used to treat patients with a variety of ailments, including specific forms of cancer such as leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. The demand is great, said Mary Lynn Pride, patient transplant liaison specialist with OneMatch.
“Currently, there are 959 Canadian patients awaiting stem cell matches,” Pride said during a recent visit to Brock. “What you do here on Oct. 31 is going to greatly impact those patients.”
The event is part of the “Get Swabbed!” university challenge, which is happening on 20 university campuses from Oct. 24 to Nov. 9. There has been heightened awareness of stem cell and marrow donation at Brock since Evangelia Tsiani, an associate professor of Community Health Sciences, promoted the cause earlier this year. Tsiani helped hold an event in St. Catharines to find a match for one of her best friends, Toronto pharmacist Cathy Anagnostopoulos.
Seeing photos of the Anagnostopoulos family impacted Bryan Booth, Community Health Sciences student and an event organizer.
“I thought, ‘What’s the difference between that family and my family?’” he said. “It could be anyone’s friend or loved one.”
There is a particular need for donors of different ethnicities, Pride said. There are 42 black patients awaiting stem cell transplants, for example. But black donors account for only about 1 per cent of entries in the registry. There is also a need for more Jewish, Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Latin American and Aboriginal donors.
More volunteers are needed to help staff the event, Booth said. He also hopes to see the Brock community out in droves.
The swabbing event is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Pond Inlet.
To volunteer, contact the Community Health Sciences Student Council at firstname.lastname@example.org
Canadian Blood Services is also holding a blood donor clinic on Nov. 4.