Students were swabbed for Lifeline, the UTM Blood and Stem Cell Society’s bi-annual event held to recruit stem cell donors, last Wednesday.
Lifeline volunteers set up booths in CCT, IB, and the Davis Building to provide information and encourage students to join the Canadian Blood Services’ network, OneMatch, which connects patients requiring stem cell transplants with compatible donors. To register, students were required to swab their cheeks to provide a sample of their cells to the registry.
“Currently, there are around 1,000 patients with diseases such as cancer that require stem cell transplants during their treatments,” explained Areej Shahab, Lifeline’s director of communications. “Often, a stem cell match can’t be found within one’s family, and we need to look for matches outside of [the] family.”
This year, there was a special focus on recruiting male donors between the ages of 17 and 35, and those of diverse ethnic backgrounds. According to OneMatch’s online newsletter from May 2012, young males of various ethnicities are ideal donors because they tend to have a greater volume of stem cells than females, and their cells cause fewer complications after the transplant.
“Males, here’s your chance to become heroes by registering to become stem cell donors,” said Karolina Chelminiak, the OneMatch representative for Central Ontario. “Females, here’s your chance to become heroes by encouraging your boyfriends, cousins, and brothers to become donors.”
Shahab added that while men are ideal donors, women are also invited to join the registry. “You never know whose life you can save,” she said.
The event was part of the broader Canadian Blood Services’ Get Swabbed! campaign, held annually to recruit donors from high schools, universities, and colleges.
According to Shahab, over 100 students were swabbed on Wednesday, an increase over last year.
Get Swabbed! events will be held on campus again next semester.