December 30, 2013 9:43 pm

Stem-cell transplant needed for 4-year-old Hannah Day: How to help

Four year old Hannah Day has spent most of her young life in and out of hospital.

She has Leukemia and it’s the second time in as many years that she is battling cancer.

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She underwent 15 months of chemotherapy for a tumour in her stomach, but weeks later was diagnosed with Leukemia. Hannah’s family says her only hope for survival is a stem-cell transplant, but neither her sister nor her parents are a perfect match, so they’re hoping a donor will be found. They set up a web page called Angels for Hannah to try and find a donor.

A stem-cell transplant is her last chance.

To become a stem-cell donor you can fill out a questionnaire online if you’re between the ages of 17 and 35, and you’ll be sent a kit in the mail. A swab of your cheeks will reveal if you’re a suitable donor. Once identified as a match, donors will undergo one of two procedures. Stem cells can be harvested from bone marrow under general anesthetic, or through peripheral blood stem cell donation.

The donor does not experience pain during either procedure.

“Our age criteria is 17 to 35 to register,” says Mary Lynn Pride from Canadian Blood Services. “So we’re really looking to those young people to step forward to provide an opportunity to help patients like Hannah who are in need. We’re also asking young men to step forward because we do have a particular need for young men to register as they have been deemed as the optimal donor patients in need of transplant.”

Pride says generally men produce a higher volume of stem cells for donation but also post-transplant there is better recovery for patients with a male donor over a female donor.

“We do know that younger donors provide better post-transplant recovery for patients as well as the longevity of ensuring that they are on the registry longer to support patients in need,” she says.

Canada currently has 326,000 people who are already registered as potential stem-cell donors. Hannah is one of 750 Canadians who are currently awaiting a stem-cell transplant.

© Shaw Media, 2013

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