Canadian Blood Services looking for ethnically diverse donors, aged 17 to 35

Canadian Blood Services is asking for more ethnically diverse donors to increase the number in its current stem cell registry.

March 19 stem cell drive hopes to expand current registry which is 69 % Caucasian

8-year-old Muskaan Gill was diagnosed with Krabbe disease and died in December of 2015 after she was unable to find a stem cell match. The Canadian Blood services says only 31% of the current stem cell registry is ethnically diverse. (Submitted by Bhavraj Saran)

A stem cell drive scheduled for downtown Vancouver on Sunday hopes to add more ethnically diverse donors to the Canadian Blood Services registry.

"It's so hard to find a match," said organizer Bhavraj Saran.

Saran's 8-year-old niece Muskaan Gill had Krabbe disease and died in 2015 after she was unable to find a stem cell match.

"We could not find one because there's not many people of Indian descent who are registered," said Saran.

"It was honestly so tough — we even did a worldwide search but the match wasn't enough."

According to the Canadian Blood Services, 69 per cent of the current stem cell registry is Caucasian.

"For every ethnic grouping we need more people to register," said Canadian Blood Services spokesperson Trudi Goels.

"They need to have a very similar DNA to the patient."

Bhavraj Saran (right) and Abubakar Khan are organizing a stem cell drive in downtown Vancouver to increase the number of ethnically diverse donors in the registry. (submitted by Bhavraj Saran)

Saran organized Sunday's event, scheduled for 2 p.m. PT at Jack Poole Plaza, to encourage to encourage more people of ethnic backgrounds to register as donors.

"It falls so perfectly with people fighting against racial discrimination because people from different backgrounds will be there," he said.

'"If we get 5,000 people out and we get them to register, there has to be some matches and hopefully we can save some lives."

Bhavraj Saran is organizing a stem cell drive on Sunday to increase the number of ethnically diverse donors. (Bhavraj Saran)

Goels said the Canadian Blood services is looking for healthy individuals from diverse backgrounds who are between the ages of 17 and 35.

She said transplant physicians have asked for younger individuals so the recovery time is faster.

Canadian Blood Services is also specifically targeting males in stem cell drives. 

"The risk of rejecting the transplant reduces when the donor is male," said Goels. 

Goels said there are more than 800 patients waiting for a stem cell match in Canada.