Donors sought for bone marrow transplants
Donors needed from First Nation and African Canadian communities
There was a bone marrow donation drive at Toronto's George Brown College on Wednesday — a way of encouraging people and raising awreness about the growing need for donors.
Andy Lau can attest to the great personal satisfaction of becoming a bone marrow donor.
"I'm proud of myself for doing this." said Lau, who donated his bone marrow to a complete stranger two years ago.
"I think it's a milestone," he said, "one of the achievements of my life."
On any given day there are about a 1,000 people in Canada on a waiting list for a stem cell or bone marrow transplant.
Sarah Watkin — a five-year-old from Thornhill — is one of them.
Sarah has been living at Toronto's Sick Children's Hospital since last October, almost since the time she was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia called acute myeloid leukemia, or AML.
Her family is hoping for a match, but so far no luck.
A bone marrow drive is being planned for next week and in the meantime her parents have started a Facebook page — called Sarah's Drive for Hope — to help their daughter find a match and also to raise awareness
"There's a lot of kids here, that we know personally, who need bone marrow transplants," said Sarah's mother Leah. "Some of them get it and some of them don't."
For her part, Sarah may have an easier time finding a match than some other children from racial minorities.
"There's a very strong need for people of First Nation and African Canadian (communities) to join our network because there are not too many people to support patients," said Hailu Mulatu of the organization One Match.
To become a potential donor you can log on to onematch.ca and fill out a form.
They'll send you a swab kit. If you're a match blood tests will be scheduled and then the transplant itself.
Andy Lau says the transplant is nothing to be scared of.
"If you ask me how painful it is, from one to 10, I would say a three."
Lau says he's looking forward to one day meeting the person he helped.