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By contributor Shari Bishop Bowes

If there’s a chance you could save someone’s life, someone you’ve never met, would you do it?

VIU third-year Nursing students (left to right) Jaime Crucil, Courtney Johnston, Jennifer Simm, and Jacquelyn Janzen, along with Chris Barron, territory manager for Canadian Blood Services Vancouver Island.
VIU third-year Nursing students (left to right)
Jaime Crucil, Courtney Johnston, Jennifer Simm,
and Jacquelyn Janzen, along with Chris Barron,
territory manager for Canadian Blood Services
Vancouver Island.

VIU Nursing students and Canadian Blood Services (CBS) are hoping to get a long list of healthy young adults showing up for a OneMatch stem cell donor registration event from 3 to 6 pm on Friday, March 27 at Nanaimo’s Country Club Centre mall. The registry is open to people aged 17 to 35, with a particular need for healthy young men of different diverse backgrounds.

“We are encouraging people to come out and learn about OneMatch and hopefully make the commitment to help the approximately 1000 Canadians searching for an unrelated stem cell donor,” said Courtney Johnston, who, along with three other third-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing students, will be hosting the program in conjunction with CBS on Vancouver Island.

The OneMatch event will provide information on what’s involved in becoming a stem cell donor, she says, and Nursing students will help registrants conduct a quick cheek swab on the spot.

“It’s a simple procedure that involves getting a swab sample from your mouth to collect your DNA,” Johnston said.

Chris Barron, CBS Vancouver Island territory manager, says the OneMatch event is a great partnership for VIU and his organization, and a learning opportunity in community engagement and practice for the future nurses.

“Once you get your cheek swabbed, your information is entered into the databank and the test results from your swab sample will be compared to any patient in the world needing a stem cell transplant,” Barron said.

Matches are sought for patients who suffer from a variety of diseases and disorders, including blood-related diseases like leukemia, aplastic anemia, and inherited immune system and metabolic disorders.

If the call comes and your stem cells are a match, a OneMatch donor can expect to undergo additional testing to determine the full extent of their compatibility.

If a donor is determined to be a match, stem cells are collected in two ways: through a “peripheral” collection, much like a blood donation, or through a bone marrow stem cell donation, which is collected through a surgical procedure. Once stem cells are collected from the donor they will be given intravenously to the recipient. The donation could have a life-saving effect on the patient.

“OneMatch is a member of the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA)—a network of accredited registries around the world,” Barron said. “A Canadian stem cell donor could provide a match for someone in another country, and there’s also the possibility of a match internationally for a patient who needs it here in Canada.”

For more information on the OneMatch campaign and stem cell donation, visit blood.ca.

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