You can be the one who saves a life.

Mom & childNina is the mother of a two-year-old son, and happily married to the love of her life. Unfortunately, Nina was diagnosed with lymphoma.  After more than 7 rounds of aggressive chemotherapy, her last hope is stem cell transplant…… You may be the one who can save Nina.

Many of us probably know someone in need of stem cell transplant.   Stem cells are immature blood forming cells that have the ability to develop into any of the cells in the bloodstream including; red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other blood components.  If an individual has a disease or disorder that destroys his stem cells or prevents  production of stem cells,  he will need  some healthy stem cells from a healthy donor.  Individuals with specific cancers such as leukemia’s, lymphomas, and myeloma are often treated with a stem cell transplant after all other methods have been exhausted.  Anyone who has a bone marrow deficiency due to abnormal red blood cell production such as sickle cell disease, thalassemia.  or aplastic anemia may benefit from a stem cell transplant.  Many others who are currently struggling with immune system disorders and metabolic disorders may also require stem cell transplants.

There are three ways that stem cells can be collected from a donor:  either through bone marrow donation, blood donation or umbilical cord donation after a baby is born.  If an individual needs a stem cell transplant they will join the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network – a division of the Canadian Blood Services.   From here a sample of his DNA is collected and is characterized by his Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA).  These data is input into the database for matching with a suitable donor.  Matching is the most important part of a stem cell transplant and is a key piece in ensuring the stem cell transplant is successful.  The human leukocyte antigens are markers that are genetically inherited and many of these have been proven to be important when matching process.  An ideal match would obviously be a family member but the chances of finding a compatible family member are less than 30%.  Individuals rely on finding a matched donor through potential donors registry, like Onematch Stem Cell and Marrow Network.  If there is a large enough and more diverse network of donors, there will be more options for patients in Canada and worldwide who desperately rely on this as a last treatment option.

OneMatch_1

At any given time, OneMatch is often searching for stem cell matches for about over 800 Canadian and 400 international patients.  There are different groups and initiatives who are focused on ethnicity specific stem cell donor registration in hopes of finding better matches.  Other Half is a stem cell initiative that Dr. Tsang volunteers for.  Currently,  there are not as many people registering as stem cell donors.  The process of becoming a potential donor is very simple which involve a swab in the oral cavity which we, at the Children’s Oral Care Centre, are very familiar with.  If you are ready to make an impact and would like to take part potentially to save a life, please don’t hesitate to contact us.  We would be more than happy to be your liaison and walk you through the process of being a donor which takes just 5 minutes!  We are more than happy to help if you are too.  Please find out more information by contacting our office.

otherhalfCopyright 2014 The Children’s Oral Care Centre

Love has no border – our dental volunteer mission: Ojochal – Nicaragua

Abre la boca! (open your mouth!) –  Not only did the Nicaraguans open their mouths for us when we visited them in March for our dental mission, they also opened their hearts for us.  When we visited the two different villages during our trip, we found them all very welcoming.  Even though the history of Nicaragua is scarred by dictatorship, civil wars and hurricanes, the people have not given up and are striving to make Nicaragua a better country.  They have such positive outlooks on their lives that we could never tell Nicaragua was the second poorest country in Latin America.  As much as we helped to improve their oral health during our trip, we benefited more as they made us experience true happiness, which lies in what you enjoy and not what you have!   We also made many friends with other dental professionals from all over the country who not only had talent in dentistry but also in music.  Impromptu live bands at the beach were definitely one of the highlights of the trip!

Want to see more about our trip – please visit: http://youtu.be/ro1vXLa04VA

This is how other members of the Children’s Oral Care’s team feel about the trip…

Maria

People in North America seem to think of going to the dentist as a right or a pain they’d rather not endure. It was a real treat to experience those that see it as a blessing and a special occasion. In a village we visited on the last 2 days of our mission in Nicaragua, it was a real eye opener. We were told by our translators that everyone went home and dressed in their best attire to meet us for treatment. They saw it as a gift and a very special day.  They spoiled us with fresh foods for lunch that they prepared in thanks and the children put together a program of song and dance to perform for us. After treatment the kids would just hang around, watched and enjoyed our company.  Quite different from what we know. Some wait for hours in the hot sun, just to have a quick cleaning. I only hope that we would all realize what a privilege we do have in North America.

Cheryl

There are so many things to share about our trip to Nicaragua; in general it was just awesome. It was an eye opener when going out into the villages to perform dental work and seeing how the people actually live. They are very poor people, who truly needed our help. Even though our drives to the villages were quite long, especially when it was an hour drive down a gravel road and you wondered where in the world we were going, it allowed me to see and soak in more of the culture and life of Nicaragua. I was surprised when seeing an oxen/horse and cart used to pull people or their belongings on the main road. Even though each day had its challenges, like not having power for our machines, dust and dirt flying all around or the language barrier, the best part of it all was being able to use my given talents to serve the people there. And through it all I learned a bit of Spanish.

Meghan

Going to Nicaragua was one of the most memorable trips I have ever been on. Someone’s explanation of what a mission trip is does not do justice to what actually happened.  There was so much more that I have experienced.  The warm greeting we got from each village put a smile on my face for the entire time I was working.  When we drove down the dirt roads, we pulled up to villages that have nothing. Each house looked empty and dark but the entire family lives in it. When we came to do the dental work,  each patient showed great cooperation although I could only communicate with my limited body language. The patients were very helpful and very grateful for everything we did.   Parents thanked us even if their children were upset and fearful for the work, which made it that much more rewarding. Life in Nicaragua is so different than back home.  People live without what,  we in North America, feel that we can’t live without.   It makes me realize how little I really need to live a happy, healthy life and to be grateful for what I have already got.  Overall it was an amazing, life transforming experience and I cannot wait to go again.

 

plaque
Copyright 2014 The Children’s Oral Care Centre