Cape Breton children inspire stem cell donation drive
Kellen and Kaylee's Day of Hope event raises awareness about donations
An event planned to help two Cape Breton children with blood disorders drove 121 people to add their names to Canada’s stem cell registry.
Kellen and Kaylee’s Day of Hope included several fun events to try to get the word out about the importance of donation.
Seven-year-old Kellen Surette of Glace Bay was diagnosed with Myelodsplastic syndrome, which can turn into leukemia. He’s scheduled for a stem cell transplant in May.
"We were lucky enough to find a donor quickly," said his mother, Andrea Martin. "But there’s lots out there who need a donor desperately."
Martin was grateful to all the donors who took part in the event.
"Kellan needs platelets every week, and blood usually every three weeks," she said. "If it wasn’t for these donors coming out, it would be a bad situation."
People lined up to swab their stem cells and be added to the One Match registry. It pairs people both in Canada and internationally who are compatible donors for blood, plasma, platelets and stem cell donations.
Amanda Vallace added herself to the list.
"It’s comparable to brushing your teeth," she said. "You’re just rubbing a cotton swab on the inside of your cheek for 15 – 20 seconds four times."
The event was also inspired by Kaylee MacIntyre, a five-year-old from Bras d’Or with a blood disorder. She’s responding well to immune drugs, but her mother said she could still need a transplant.
"Her dad and I were not matches," said Trish MacIntyre. "So today means a lot to us to see if we can find a match for Kaylee when the time comes – if the time comes – because that time hopefully isn’t going to come."
Organizers said there is an increased need for donors between the ages of 17 and 35.