April is the Canadian Cancer Society‘s Daffodil Month, raising awareness and funds for cancer and cancer treatments. One of those treatments is stem cell transplants. Stem cells can come from our blood or bone marrow, or from the umbilical cord of a newborn baby. When transplanted into someone with a disease like leukemia that inhibits their ability to make blood cells, they can be lifesaving. But fewer than 30 percent of patients in need of a stem cell transplant find a match within their own families.
That’s where OneMatch, a program of Canadian Blood Services, comes in. Register on the OneMatch website and you’ll get a kit in the mail; use the kit to take a swab from inside your cheek and send it back to be entered into OneMatch’s database of potential stem cell donors. You’ll be contacted by OneMatch if you are a match for someone in need of a transplant; you always retain the right to say no, but your stem cells — harvested under anesthesia during a day surgery — could provide a cure.
The more diverse the OneMatch registry, the better — patients have the best chance of finding a match within their own ethnic group, so OneMatch says that a registry that reflects the country’s diversity gives everyone the best chance of a successful transplant. You can get more information about stem cells, registration and the donor process on the OneMatch website.