In August 2008, a group of friends rallied around Dr. Abhijit Guha, a renowned cancer specialist in Toronto, who desperately needed of a life-saving stem cell transplant to cure his leukemia. The problem? The best chance of finding a matching donor would be within his ethnic group, but too few South Asians were registered – a mere 2% or 4,000 individuals – in Canada’s OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network.
Although people of South Asian descent already number over a million in Canada, South Asian patients in need of a transplant having a far lower chance of finding a matching donor than a Caucasian patient.
Formed in the spring of 2009 to build on the successful campaign to help Dr. Guha and help other families in need, SA4L is proud to work in partnership with OneMatch.
Last year, we added 900 new South Asian registrants to the Canadian network, a remarkable increase of almost 20%!
At last count, 28 South Asians are searching for a stem cell match in Canada – the highest number among all ethnic groups (outside of Caucasian). The aim of SA4L is to help these individuals and their families by finding that critical match – whether Punjabi, Ismaili, Tamil or Bangladeshi – by raising awareness, holding events or by simply being an understanding voice on the other end of a telephone call.
These days, donating stem cells is easy:
- Most stem cell donations no longer require surgery to obtain bone marrow. Peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) collection is now the most common method for donating stem cells
- The donor is connected through a vein to a unit which collects stem cells from the blood, then immediately returns the rest back to the donor
- Recovery time is a few hours, and patients are back home the same day
- PBSC collection is essentially painless, and anesthesia is not required
In Canada, register online with the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network today, by visiting www.onematch.ca, or call 1-888-2-DONATE
Will you be the One Match to save a life today?