NEWS

Stem cell donor drive held in Vancouver for Montreal girl

04/18/2013 04:51 EDT | Updated 06/18/2013 05:12 EDT
Dozens of people in Vancouver volunteered to get tested to see if they were a potential bone marrow match for a four-year-old girl from Montreal.

Several teenagers from the Pacific Torah Institute got their cheeks swabbed at a screening clinic at the Jewish Community Centre on Wednesday.

Montreal's Jayden Roll has myelodysplastic syndrome, a form of leukemia, and needs a bone marrow transplant and new stem cells to survive. No one in her family is a match.

Ron Segev, a friend of Roll's father, organized the Vancouver donor drive.

"This could happen to anyone — it's just dumb luck and I've got to do something to help,” Segev said.

Jessica Stergiou, spokeswoman with OneMatch.ca, a program of Canadian Blood Services, says the test is a simple cheek swab that can be done with a home screening kit, and the donation process is much simpler than before.

“Basically, the blood comes out of your arm. We separate the stem cells from your blood product. We keep the stem cells, you get all your blood product back,” Stergiou said.

“About 10 per cent of the time, mainly for infants and very young children, they will do it out of the hip bone. We don't go to the spine — that's another myth,” said Stergiou.

Stem cells work best if they come from a male between the ages of 17-35, but only 12 per cent of the entire donor base falls into that category.

Roll is on a waitlist with about 1,000 other Canadian patients in need of stem cell transplants.

MORE:cbcNews