Canadian Blood Services seeks stem cell donors on campus

by | Nov 28, 2018 | News

Kelvin Tran
News Editor

Canadian Blood Services were in the Student Centre Monday looking for students to be stem cell donors. The students that want to give must first sign a few forms and then have their cheeks swabbed.

The swabs are tested for certain antigens that help match a donor to a patient in need.

Students can also have their blood tested to find out which blood type they have, which is very helpful in finding a match.

“The patients who need a transplant, their bodies are either not creating stem cells or they are being reproduced in a diseased state,” said Sharr Cairns, a manager at Canadian Blood Services.

“What we have to do is wipe out the stem cells of the patient, introduce new healthy stem cells. Hopefully they take. And they literally have what they feel is a new birthday, because this is their last hope for survival,” she said.

There is a procedure to be followed if there is a match between a donor and a patient.

Cairns said the first method is a blood donation where the donor is hooked up to a machine that will filter the stem cells from your blood.

The other way is to take the stem cells straight from the bone marrow in the hip bone, while the donor is under an anesthetic.

Canadian Blood Services was specifically asking for male donors at the event. Cairns said that’s because male donors can often lead to a better post-transplant outcome.

“Generally speaking, a male has more blood stem cells by volume and will lessen the severity of something the patient suffers post-transplant, which is called graft versus host disease,” she said.

She said women were still welcome to come register.

The Canadian Cancer Society released estimates in 2017 that showed more than 200,000 people were diagnosed with cancer that year. Almost 90,000 people died.

Transplanting stem cells from a donor is one way to treat such illnesses.

People from Candian Blood Services weren’t the only ones screening people for potential matches — some Humber students got involved as well.

“The MSA [Muslim Student Association] is a group of Muslims that come together and try to help the Humber community at large,” said Hashir Shake, the president of the MSA and a fourth year nursing student. “We wanted to do this event because it’s a way that we can help people.”

The event also honoured Shahrzad Jabbarian, who died in 2013, a year after she was diagnosed with leukemia. She formed the Healthy Marrow Canada charity which hosts marrow swabs.

“I think we need to inform people because this is very, very simple but very important, to find a match for people with blood cancer,” said her father Ali Jabbarian.