Ontario post-secondary schools host stem cell clinics

A blood donor clinic pictured at a shopping mall in Calgary, Alta., Friday, March 27, 2020. Canadian Blood Services says it's having success attracting new donors, but a slew of unfilled or cancelled appointments over the past few months has the blood supply lower than it would like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Canadian Blood Services are setting up clinics at post-secondary institutions to look for potential stem cell donors.

One is taking place at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo on Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There are two clinics on Feb. 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Feb. 13 from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the University of Waterloo. Another is taking place on Feb. 15 at the University of Guelph from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Canadian Blood Services is looking for students between the ages of 17 and 35.

“Universities tend to have the perfect demographic for us,” said Chris vanDoorn, community development manager at Canadian Blood Services.

“There is a good audience of students there, lots of foot traffic. So it’s a great place for us to host one of these events.”

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Younger donors have a better outcome for the patients so vanDoorn explained that is why Canadian Blood Services is looking into that age group. He said the organization is also looking for donors with diverse backgrounds.

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“Finding a stem cell donor typically goes by your ethnic background,” vanDoorn said. “It is important to have a strong, diverse registry with numbers in order to help the more than 1,000 people waiting for a match.”

Those attending the clinics will have their cheeks swabbed so their details can be put in a database. Those who are registered are on the list until they reach the age of 60.

There are over 80 diseases and disorders that can be treated through stem cell transplants, vanDoorn said. He explained that stem cell transplants are different than blood transfusions where the patient’s blood type must match with the donor’s.

“Typically, people who have the need for a stem cell transplant have a blood cancer like leukemia or lymphoma,” vanDoorn said. “They eliminate the patient’s blood system, introduce healthy stem cells from a donor. Their blood systems grows back healthy and free of cancer and that’s why they basically take on the donor’s blood system and blood type.”

Anyone interested in becoming a stem cell donor but who is unable to get to a clinic can also register online.

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More information about the campaign can be found by going to the Canadian Blood Services website.


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