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2014-01-15 at 14:20

Joining the registry

By Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com
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Heather Madussi said deciding to join the country’s stem cell registry donor base wasn’t a difficult choice to make.

“I actually have a friend whose cousin needs bone marrow. So she had posted it on Facebook. I looked it up, informed myself and decided it would be a good idea, especially since I have a personal connection to it.”

One Match, Canada’s stem cell and marrow network, set up shop Wednesday at Lakehead University, encouraging anyone aged 17 to 35 to take part.

Madussi said it was a relatively simple process.

“It’s pretty easy. You do it yourself, so it’s not invasive or anything,” she said.

In Canada, there are up to 800 people waiting for stem cell and marrow transplants at any given time, but a only about 350 donors that match.

Once on the registry, unless they voluntarily remove themselves, potential donors stay there until age 61.

Hailu Mulatu, a co-ordinator with One Match, said this is the fourth year the Get Swabbed event has been staged, one of more than 100 universities across the country.

In addition to an age criteria, prospective donors should be in good health and willing to support any patient in need.

The organization’s target group is also predominantly male and ethnically diverse, he added.
“There is a very strong need. Right now there are about 800 people in Canada waiting for a stem-cell transplant. These are patients who couldn’t find a matching donor from their own family or siblings,” Mulatu said.

“So they are relying on someone they do not know, a total stranger. There’s a very strong need to increase not only the size, but the quality and diversity of our network.”

The test itself takes about 10 minutes, and involves a questionnaire, a briefing from a volunteer and separately swabbing four parts of the mouth.

Volunteer Breanne Bencharski, Lakehead nursing association president, said a potential donor could be called in a month, a year, or never.

The clinic runs Wednesday until 6 p.m. at the Agora and is open to the public.

Donors can also sign up online at www.onematch.ca/join and a swab kit will mailed out.

About 325,000 Canadians are registered on the One Match Network.

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