Nina 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.
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.