Students swab for possible stem cell match

Hope to increase number of donors

OneMatch staff
OneMatch recruiters (L-R): Soheil Rassi, Wamorena Chite, Sepehr Rassi, Zacc Paul and Atefeh Tabesh. Photo: Tari Wilson

About 100 Dalhousie University students registered Tuesday to be donors in a national bone marrow and stem cell donor database.

The event was part of the OneMatch program run by Canadian Blood Services.

“OneMatch is all about finding the one match for someone because the chances of finding a donor and a recipient that matches is one in 50,000,” says event co-ordinator Zacc Paul. “Right now we have 335,000 people in the database and 900 people are still waiting on a match.”

OneMatch is a part of an international network of registries containing more than 11 million donors worldwide. Stem cell transplants are used to treat a variety of diseases and disorders such as leukemia, anemia and inherited immune system disorders.

Administrators of the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network are specifically looking for ethnically diverse males to join the registry.

“Seventy-six per cent of our database is Caucasian so that means 24 per cent for the other minorities in Canada. Kind of skewed. So we’re trying to build up African Canadians, Aboriginal Canadians, Chinese Canadians,” says Paul.

Males are targeted as the best donors, Paul says. This is because they generate more stem cells and “the quality of life for a recipient after the donation from a male is actually better than after a donation from a female.”

Registration held in Dal’s Student Union Building took only 10 minutes and included a basic questionnaire and four swabs of the mouth.

Paul, a first-year kinesiology student, says they had about 75 people register and were expecting around 100 by the end of the day.