Get swabbed: your chance to save a life

Get swabbed: your chance to save a life

October 24, 2013


By Communications Staff

The Queen’s community is rallying to support a local teenager diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), a disorder that prevents bone marrow from producing enough healthy blood cells. Sixteen-year-old basketball star Mackenzie Curran was diagnosed with MDS in August 2013 while getting ready for the new school year and sports season. She now requires a stem cell donor to return to health and has been unable to find a suitable match within her family.

On Tuesday, Oct. 29, members of the Queen’s community will be encouraged to be tested as a potential match for Mackenzie or the other nearly 1,000 Canadians currently waiting for a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. The Queen’s University Blood Team will be hosting the event in association with Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network. The process of being tested takes between five and ten minutes, and involves having the inside of the cheek swabbed for DNA. Young men between the ages 17-35 are most likely to help patients like Mackenzie.

“Stem cells from young and male donors are optimal for patients like Mackenzie because they can have better post-transplant results and fewer chances of complications,” says OneMatch Donor Management Coordinator Jessica Stergiou. “Patients are most likely to find their matching donor with someone of similar ethnic background. This is why more ethnically diverse donors are needed to register with OneMatch.”

Julia Kirby (Artsci’15) is co-ordinating the OneMatch event for the Queen’s University Blood Team along with Anna Zhuo (Artsci’14). “It’s a really simple process and, if you’re a match, you are a one in a million match,” says Ms. Kirby. “And if it does work out, you are the one person who can be someone’s hero. I just find that incredible.”

The swab events take place at three locations on campus on Tuesday, Oct. 29: in the Bioscience atrium from 9 am to 5 pm, in the Queen’s Centre from 9 am to 4 pm, and in the Victoria Hall Upper Common from 6 pm to 9 pm. OneMatch is encouraging young, healthy donors to come out to a swab event and register to help all patients in need.

A second swab event will take place at St. John’s Anglican Church, at 41 Church St., on Nov. 2 from noon to 4 pm.

Of more than 324,000 Canadians currently registered on the network, 72% are Caucasian and only 28% are from Canada’s many diverse ethnic groups. There is an immediate need for more donors, especially young men ages 17-35 from various ethnic backgrounds.

Anyone unable to attend next week's swab event can book an appointment to be swabbed by contacting Canadian Blood Services at 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283) or online.

More information on becoming a stem cell donor