The Appeal for South Asian Donors (ASAD) asks South Asians and other minorities to join the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network to help ease the waitlist for stem cell and bone marrow transplants. According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, among different ethnic groups, the probability of finding a good match is 93% for North American Caucasians; African Americans and Asians have only a 50% chance.
The best hope for any patient is a match from someone in his ethnic community. One such patient is Dr. Abhijit Guha, a prominent Toronto-based neurosurgeon, cancer researcher, and tireless advocate within the South Asian community, who was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia in August. He is one of 20 South Asians like Haider Choudhury who cannot find a stem cell match within their own families.
Many more donors from all ethnic communities, including South Asian, are needed to develop a registry that reflects the needs of all patients as 70% of patients must rely on donated stem cells. Although there are approximately 230,000 men and women across Canada registered to donate stem cells or bone marrow and patients have access to a world-wide network of potential donors, almost 600 individuals still wait for a transplant.
ASAD is committed to increasing awareness by targeting community organizations, temples and other religious institutions, and social networks in order to reach the approximately half a million South Asians who live in the GTA alone. In Canada, 5000 people of South Asian descent (about 2 %) are already registered with the OneMatch network. Since the launch of ASAD’s campaign at the beginning of August 2008, more than 200 people have joined for the OneMatch.
ASAD asks all Canadians to participate in this campaign by visiting OneMatch.ca to register with the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, managed by Canadian Blood Services. Only individuals between the ages of 17 and 50 are eligible to donate. It’s free, easy and quick. Within days, Canadian Blood Services will confirm participation in the registry and mail a registration kit with cotton swabs. Applicants take a cheek swab to collect a DNA sample, then place it in a sealable vial and send it back.