British Columbia

Vancouver Canucks' Erik Gudbranson lends support to #MenGiveLife campaign

Gudbranson's younger brother Dennis was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in 2002, and received a stem cell transplant.

Gudbranson's younger brother Dennis was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in 2002

Erik Gudbranson is encouraging young men to sign up and become stem cell donors. (Dan Imbeault/CBC)

The Vancouver Canucks' Erik Gudbranson wants more young men to sign up as stem cell donors.

The new defenceman is lending his name and support to the #MenGiveLife campaign, organized by the Canadian Blood Services.

Gudbranson's younger brother, Dennis, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in 2002. He received a bone marrow transplant in 2004 from a woman in Newfoundland.

"My brother is here 12 years later, a healthy young man," the Canucks player said Thursday.

"It's a positive story but there's so much more to be done."

More young men needed

The Canadian Blood Services says there are 750 patients currently waiting for stem cell donors, and men aged 17 to 35 would make the most optimal matches for those people.

However, just 20 per cent of all stem cell donors registered fall into that category.

"We need to improve that," said director of donor relations David Patterson.

"For many of these people, a stem cell match is often the only hope for recovery so it's very important we find those matches."

Gudbranson's brother is now studying finance at Concordia University, but he says it was very tough on the family.

"This is something we as the Gudbranson family hold very near and dear to our hearts," he said.

"They're often tough and brutal situations that for the most part unfortunately do not have the best outcomes."

He's encouraging men between the ages of 17 and 35 to sign up. 

"I think it's extremely important and very empowering to know that a simple swab can help save someone's life," he said.

"You're young, you're strong... and these men can really take the time to save these people and give them the best outcome."