Amherst responds to One Match request

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Bone marrow registration, collection session held at YMCA

When Rod Wilson asked for the community’s help in his campaign to find a bone marrow donor, he never imagined the response he’d get.

Matt Smith swabs his cheek as part of a One Match registration and collection session at the Cumberland YMCA on Friday.

AMHERST – When Rod Wilson asked for the community’s help in his campaign to find a bone marrow donor, he never imagined the response he’d get.

Wilson was in awe Friday when dozens of people showed up at the Cumberland YMCA for a bone marrow registration session hosted by One Match Canada.

“It’s pretty humbling, really,” Wilson said. “When I walked in at noon and saw that 50 or 60 people were already here, and they were here at my request, it was pretty overwhelming.”

Several weeks ago, Wilson turned to social media to ask for help in finding a bone marrow donor. The popular manager of Dooly’s, Wilson waged a battle several years ago with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and thought he had it beat, only to discover earlier this year that the disease had returned in a more aggressive form.

Family and friends organized an awareness campaign, inviting people to go to the One Match website to register or come to the collection on Friday, that ran from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Jessica Stergiou, the co-ordinator of donor management for the One Match stem cell and marrow network, was impressed with the response to the Amherst event, and one at Mount Allison earlier Friday that attracted more than 80 potential donors.

As of mid-afternoon, the Amherst event had attracted more than 150 donors with the majority falling into the target group – men ages 17 to 35.

The Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers also participated and have issued a challenge to other teams in the Maritime Junior Hockey League to join up.

“What we’re doing today is trying to recruit as many young, committed males to join the registry and possibly save if a life if they were to become a match some day,” Stergiou.

Stergiou said registering is as simple as going to a collection event, filling out a registration form and swapping the inside of their cheeks. They can also go to onematch.ca/join and a registration kit will be mailed to them.

She said there are two ways to donate. One is similar to blood donation, albeit a longer process. They’re given a stimulating factor four days before the blood donation, while for high risk patients the patient is sedated and marrow is taken out of the hip bone.

“Afterwards, the donor will feel a little stiff, like they worked out too hard, but it’s definitely not painful,” she said.

Stergious said it’s important for people to be committed and when they get a call, they may the one person in the world who can give a family man back to their family or community.

At any time, she said, there are up to 1,000 people on the waiting list in Canada. Despite the number of people on the donor registry, she said, only 40 per cent of those on the list found matches last year.

While there 22 million people on the registry worldwide, Stergiou said there are only 45,000 young men, ages 17 to 35, on the registry.

“The more young males that get on that registry the more matches we’re going to find for people like Rod,” she said.

The focus is on males is because research shows there’s a higher success rate when the donor is a male with less a chance of rejection. It’s also for that reason, that the age group 17 to 35 is preferred.

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

 

Organizations: YMCA, Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers, Maritime Junior Hockey League

Geographic location: Canada

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