North Vancouver RCMP call for stem cell donors to save one of their own

Nancy Taylor, a city employee and auxiliary member of the RCMP, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia — a fast-spreading cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

Nancy Taylor is an auxiliary member of the force who is battling leukemia

Nancy Taylor is an auxiliary member of the RCMP who has been diagnosed with leukemia. (CBC)

Mounties in North Vancouver, B.C., are asking the public for help to save the life of one of their colleagues.

Nancy Taylor, a city employee and auxiliary member of the force, was diagnosed last November with acute lymphoblastic leukemia — a fast-spreading cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

Taylor said doctors have told her the disease can be treated with a stem cell transplant, but unfortunately none of her family members are a match and nothing in the Canadian Blood Services' OneMatch stem cell banks is suitable. 

"It's been difficult because I have a Dutch-Indonesian background," she said. "OneMatch was saying about 70 per cent of their donors are Caucasian."

She said doctors can keep her in remission by continuing her chemotherapy treatment — but only for another year or two. 

Stem cell drive

North Vancouver RCMP held a stem cell drive on Thursday, asking people to step up and get tested to see if they could be a match. 

Potential donors sign up at a stem cell drive in North Vancouver on Thursday. (CBC)

"Much of police work is doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons, to, at times, potentially save someone's life," said Cpl. Richard De Jong. 

Taylor said she hopes more people will donate to Canadian Blood Services to save lives — not just her own. 

"If they could donate, that would be great. Because they could save a life, just donating their blood or their bone marrow," she said.

"There are so many people out there waiting for a donor."

How to donate stem cells

Canadian Blood Services says a stem cell is an immature cell that can become different types of blood cells. 

Stem cell donors must be between 17 and 35 years old, and meet health criteria that include being free of cancer, heart conditions, or blood diseases.

Potential donors would sign up with OneMatch and fill out a questionnaire. If they're selected, they'll be sent a mouth swab kit to return to CBS. 

If the potential donor is a match, additional testing for diseases will be conducted. 

After that process, there are two extraction methods:

  • Stimulated peripheral blood stem cell donation. Donors are injected for four to five days with a drug to stimulate stem cell production. The cells are then received through injection

  • Bone marrow stem cell donation
    Donors are put under general anaesthetic and stem cells are withdrawn from bone marrow in their pelvis by way of a surgical procedure 

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