A Sackville, N.B., mother is encouraging people to register to become a bone marrow donor in the hopes of finding a match for her toddler.
Erin Curwin’s daughter, Marlie, became sick late last year. The one-year-old was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in January.
“I think it was the hardest day of my life,” said Erin, who is staying at Ronald McDonald House in Halifax with Marlie.
Marlie is undergoing chemotherapy and needs a bone marrow transplant, she added.
People in her hometown, as well as across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, have been fundraising to help Erin, who has taken time off work to care for Marlie.
“As soon as they found out she was sick, they were right there behind us, supporting us,” said Erin.
They’ve also held blood drives and events to get people to register for Canadian Blood Services‘ OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network.
The program, which is tied to a global network, matches people who need transplants with their appropriate donors.
“The key demographic we’re after is males between 17 and 35. You can register online. We can send the kit to you, and you can do it at home, or you can attend a swabbing event,” said Peter MacDonald, director of donor relations for the organization in Atlantic Canada.
Eligible candidates can order a free swabbing kit online. Once matched, further testing is required.
Bone marrow stem cell donations require surgery, but more than 80 per cent of donations are completed through stimulated peripheral blood stem cell donation, which is similar to how blood donations are collected.
“So it’s certainly not as invasive a procedure as it once was,” MacDonald added.
In Canada, there are 360,000 registrants. One in four people find a match within their family.
“If you’re not a match for Marlie, you could be a match for somebody else,” said Erin.