New event looks to sign on stem cell donors

NANAIMO – VIU nursing students aim to improve national network.

A new Nanaimo event aims to raise the odds of matching patients and stem cell donors.

The One Match swabbing event will be hosted Friday (March 27) at Country Club Centre by Vancouver Island University nursing students and Canadian Blood Services to find new donors to sign on to Canada’s stem cell donor network.

Chris Barron, Canadian Blood Services’ territory manager for Vancouver Island, says this is the first big push in Nanaimo for potential donors to the One Match Stem Cell and Marrow Network – a list that isn’t currently broad enough.

The data bank, part of an international network of registries, is all about matching volunteer donors with patients who suffer from blood-related disease like leukemia, or inherited immune system disorders and need stem cell transplants.

Stem cells have to be an almost ‘genetic copy’ for donation and always come from the same ethnic group, according to Barron, who says the list doesn’t currently match the country’s multicultural society with 70 per cent of its donors Caucasian. Sixty per cent are also over the age of 35.

On Friday, Canadian Blood Services will be searching for donors of different ethnic backgrounds between the ages of 17 and 35. Nursing students will dole out information about the initiative and swab interested donors for the data bank.

“Our list isn’t broad enough right now. At any given day there’s over 1,000 patients waiting for someone to be a match for them and chances are they won’t find that match,” Barron said. “We need to find as many people and get them on that list as possible whether they be female, male, ethnic or Caucasian, or black or Asian or First Nations.

“We just need to make sure we have a large, viable list that is sustainable for Canada.”

Courtney Johnston, one of four VIU students participating at the event, pointed out that stem cells aren’t something that could be bought from a drug company, “so in order to fight some of these diseases we need community support.”

Potential donors will be entered into a data bank where test results will be compared with any patient in the world needing a stem cell transplant. If there’s a match, it could involve further testing.

The event takes place from 3 to 6 p.m.

For more information on One Match, please visit


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