March 8, 2016 4:37 pm
Updated: March 8, 2016 11:04 pm

6-year-old Richmond boy desperately needs a bone marrow donor

WATCH: A six-year-old boy named Joshua Weekes has an aggressive form of leukemia and needs a bone marrow donor. Randene Neill explains why doctors are having a harder time than usual finding a match.

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The family of a six-year-old boy from Richmond is hoping someone will come forward and be a bone marrow donor.

Joshua Weekes was diagnosed with an aggressive form of acute myeloid leukemia about two weeks ago. Joshua’s aunt, Kelly Faraday, took to Facebook to plea for a donor to step forward.

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“The optimal donor matches a patient’s ethnic background because it is a genetic match they’re looking for,” said Trudi Goels, territory manager for B.C. and Yukon for Canadian Blood Services.

“So we are looking at their genetic makeup. It’s why we need people to get registered because we capture cells from the inside of their cheek and analyze them.”

Joshua’s ethnicity is diverse — English, Icelandic, Caribbean and Filipino. According to the Canadian Blood Services, fewer than 25 per cent of patients find a match within their own family.

How to Help:

Anyone between the ages of 17 and 35 can sign up to become a donor, with men being the optimal choice.

“Healthy young men are more likely to be chosen to donate by a transplant physician,” said Goels.

“We encourage everyone to register, we just push men to register because there is a lower risk of adverse outcomes for the patient.”

The Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch program is a database for anyone who requires a stem cell transplant. It is part of an international network of registries that is able to search more than 23 million donors in more than 70 registries in other countries.

However, Goels said they want everyone to register and sign up to donate blood and anything else they are able to. “Patients like Joshua, while they are undergoing treatment, they will need blood products and blood transfusions all the time,” she said.

“Also, women who are pregnant and are delivering at BC Women’s and Children’s Hospital, can sign up to donate to the cord bank so they can collect stem cells.”

To learn more about how to sign up to donate and the process, go to blood.ca.

Bone Marrow Stem Cell Donation:

This is a surgical procedure performed under anesthesia. The physician will use special hollow needles to withdraw liquid marrow from the patient’s pelvic bones.

The physician will take blood and stem cells from your bone marrow.

According to Goels, 14,000 appointments are available until the end of April.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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