NEWS

Thornhill students get swabbed for Sarah

05/02/2013 06:11 EDT | Updated 07/02/2013 05:12 EDT
Sarah Watkin got some excellent news this week.

After being diagnosed with leukemia last October, she's now cancer-free.

Sarah underwent months of chemotherapy and more than 50 blood transfusions. At one point it was thought she might need a bone marrow transplant — and that's still a possibility at some future date. But for now she's on the mend.

Sarah still doesn't have a donor match, but on Thursday some students at a north Toronto high school stepped up, hoping to shorten the odds. They got themselves swabbed.

For Mark Watkin, Sarah's father, it was an opportunity to drive home the message: "You can save a life."

Watkin was at the local high school - Thornhill Secondary School — on Thursday where students were signing up for One Match. The program that helps match bone marrow donors with recipients.

The test is simple — a swab inside the mouth and filling out a few forms.

"It was really touching because you see a real individual that was going through this type of struggle and you can't help but want to help," said Grade 12 student, Nasan Shkolikson.

Canadian Blood Services says it need to cast a wide net when it comes to getting people to do these swabs because there's only a one in 21 million chance of finding a match.

With about 900 Canadians waiting for a match, the school's principal says this is much more than a simple gesture.

"I think that there are significant lessons here: One is that we are a community that we care for each other; the second is that each of us can make a difference," said principal David McAdam.

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