Nanaimo’s blood donors might have an alternative way to save a young man’s life at an upcoming donation clinic.
Canadian Blood Services will hold a blood donation clinic at Beban Park Dec. 17 along with a OneMatch registration event to hopefully find a stem cell donor match for Jay Lutz.
Lutz, 18, from Langley, B.C., was planning to study communications at Trinity Western University this fall, but instead is undergoing treatment in a battle against acute lymphoblastic leukemia. A bone marrow stem cell transplant is key to a successful outcome, but so far, no suitable donor has been found.
“The leukemia that he has, it’s progressed to the point where he is in need of a stem cell transplant to rebuild his bone marrow,” said Chris Barron, Canadian Blood Services north Vancouver Island territory manager. “There are things called human leukocyte antigens that are essentially a fingerprint on your cell that is a unique to you, so we have to find someone that is as close to a match in HLA as possible to rebuild his bone marrow to help with the treatment of his leukemia.”
But so far, Canadian Blood Services has not been able to find a match in any DNA databases in Canada or anywhere in the world dating back to the 1970s.
“At any given time there are about 1,000 patients in Canada in need of a stem cell transplant, so he’s one of many,” Barron said. “It’s just that he’s brave enough to come out and want use his story to help, hopefully himself, but the many others out there as well.”
The registration process to become a stem cell donor is as simple as filling out a form and having swab samples taken from the inside of the prospective donor’s cheek.
“If you ever are a match for someone, which is fairly rare and why of course it’s tougher to find a match for Jay, that’s when we bring you in for further blood testing and questionnaires,” Barron said.
To learn more about the OneMatch registration program and get information on upcoming blood donation clinics, please visit the Canadian Blood Services website at https://blood.ca.