The massive push to find an Edmonton boy with leukemia a stem cell match was a success.
In March, thousands of Edmontonians, along with people across the country, stood in line at stem cell swab events hoping they’d be a match for eight-year-old Brady Mishio.
He was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, which is cancer of the blood, in November 2016. Doctors found the cancer when Brady’s dad Terry took his son to the hospital, thinking he had the flu.
“Quickly they did some tests and then they did some more tests and X-rays and things and I knew at that point — you know, a parent realizes something is awry there,” Mishio told Global News in March.
WATCH BELOW: Kent Morrison filed this report in March as Brady’s family pleaded with the public for help
A match was found for Brady in spring 2017. Who the match is or where they’re from isn’t known, since all donor information is confidential.
Brady had the transplant completed at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary. He stayed there for three months and returned home to Edmonton in August, Terry told 630 CHED.
“Brady is doing as good as expected and is continuing to be monitored at the Stollery [Children’s Hospital].”
The family has asked for privacy as Brady is still a very sick boy.
Robyn Henwood with One Match, the Canadian Blood Services’ (CBS) stem cell matching program in Canada, said it’s impossible to know exactly how many people turned out in an attempt to find a match for Brady.
The group’s records show 2,037 swabs were recorded from the event-based swabs or people coming in to self-swab. She estimates they got at least another 200 people who registered online, but thinks the real number is even higher.
“The story went so far and wide, largely because of Corus’ support, that I would probably add at least another 200 to that total.”
A March 9 event in Edmonton was so successful, the CBS team used all of the swabbing kits in Edmonton.
According to CBS, donors and patients are matched according to the compatibility of inherited genetic markers called “human leukocyte antigens.” A perfect stem cell match can be difficult to find, which is why the push is on to get more people registered.
According to CBS, about 1,000 people at any time are looking for a stem cell donor. The organization will be able to find a match for about 50 per cent of those people based on an international database.
“The more people that are in this bank — and they check it every 24 hours — the more chances that he or some other Edmontonian kids are going to find that match,” Mishio said in March.
“One of the things with sharing Brady’s story, and how much public interest there was in it, is Edmontonians are so much more aware of stem cells, bone marrow, cord blood and the process of donating,” Henwood said. “I think we’re going to see more people get involved, get on our registry and we’re going to have a better chance of finding matches for our patients.”
The target audience for signing up for the registry, and participating in the procedure, is 17-35 year olds. CBS regularly tries to recruit at post secondary schools and, on a limited basis, high schools.
One Match tries to get across a key message to end any reluctance potential donors might have.
“It doesn’t hurt,” Henwood said. “Hollywood will tell you it’s painful. It’s a giant needle in the spine. The reality of the situation is 95 per cent of the time it’s like a blood donation.”
Brady was one of the lucky ones, but still has a long road ahead of him.
“Brady and his family wish to thank everyone for all the support but still ask to respect their privacy at this time as Brady continues his battle.”
The family extended a special thank you to the Alberta Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald house “for all their services.”
– With files from Karen Bartko and Emily Mertz, Global News
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.