MP lobbies Canadians to be stem cell donors

Sunday, October 10, 2010
Peter Sands

Manitoba Member of Parliament, Joy Smith, is encouraging as many Canadians as possible to become part of the national stem cell donor databank. Smith hopes MPs and other parliament staffers will get swabbed and registered. Her aim is to spread the word across the country. All it takes, she says, is a swab in the cheek. This gives you the opportunity to save a life.
63-year-old Joy Smith’s husband, Bart, was first diagnosed with lymphoma in 2007. Following three years of chemotherapy, he had a bone marrow transplant in Winnipeg using a stem cell match found via the Canadian Blood Services OneMatch program.
Bart's only brother and their six children were tested and ruled out as donors. The greatest chances of a match are siblings - a 25 per cent chance. Even this number isn’t high, which means there is a heavy reliance on donors who are not related to the patient.
An Ontario family was not as fortunate. Their 20-year-old son passed away from leukemia after a stem cell donor could not be found. They will join the clinic. Mike, David Smyth's father, has set a goal. He aims to have two million Canadians registered within the next two years. Right now, only 263,000 Canadians are registered, which is less than one per cent of the Canadian population.

Source:  Winnipeg Free Press

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