UPEI joins national challenge, Get Swabbed, for stem cell database
© Guardian photo by Jim Day
Iain McPhee, a fifth-year biology student at UPEI, was among several students taking part Thursday in Canadian Blood Services' Get Swabbed campaign, a national challenge for stem-cell database.
Students at UPEI Thursday joined the national challenge for stem-cell database.
The event, called Get Swabbed, is taking place at 26 universities across the country this month.
Participants are invited to register to become potential blood stem cell donors through Canadian Blood Services' national stem cell registry called OneMatch.
Led by university student groups, the idea of a university challenge first began with an event created by McMaster University student Dustin Shulman. After reading about the need for more stem cell donors in the news, Shulman decided to get his local fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, on board and hosted a 24-hour event that helped add 754 new registrants to the national network.
News of the successful event spread and other schools started hosting similar events on their campuses. More than 9,000 students got swabbed last year.
This is the third annual national university challenge but the first year UPEI has got on board.
Local organizer Amir Hosseinzadeh told The Guardian he was hoping that up to 300 men would get swabbed Thursday in the student centre on UPEI's campus. The day got off to a slow start, however, with only a handful getting swabbed between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. before participation started to pick up at a promising pace.
Participants in the coast-to-coast competition will have their cheeks swabbed to see who will be this year's national champion.
The event targets young and diverse, specifically male donors between the ages of 17 and 35 — a demographic vital to OneMatch's efforts in building an optimal stem cell network in Canada.
OneMatch needs to increase the number of registrants from all types of ethnic backgrounds. There is a disparity between Caucasian and ethnically diverse communities on Canada's stem cell network. Of more than 260,000 Canadians currently registered with OneMatch, 82 per cent are Caucasian and only 18 per cent are from Canada's many diverse ethnic groups.
To accurately reflect the changing face of Canada, more potential donors are needed from diverse backgrounds such as the Jewish community, Asians, South Asians, Southeast Asians, Blacks, Latin Americans, as well as Aboriginal Canadians.
OneMatch is looking for people who are willing to donate stem cells and/or bone marrow to anyone in the world who may need this lifesaving gift. This includes the nearly 800 Canadians who await transplants so that they may survive diseases like leukemia, lymphoma, and many other serious cancers and blood diseases.
People who are interest in helping to save anyone, anywhere can register for OneMatch online at www.blood.ca.