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Marc-André Skelling, lymphoma patient, desperately seeks stem cell match

11/09/2014 04:06 EST | Updated 01/09/2015 05:59 EST
Marc-André Skelling’s days may be numbered if he can’t soon get a stem cell transplant to cure his cancer.

23-year-old Skelling of East Angus in the Eastern Townships of Quebec learned this week that he only has one month left to find a donor.

Skelling has been battling lymphoma for three years. His original prognosis in 2011 was grim -- he was given just days to live.

After aggressive chemotherapy, those days turned into years. However, a bone-marrow transplant was unsuccessful, and he recently learned that the cancer had returned.

"I’m a young man who wants to live," the young man wrote on his Facebook page this week.

Skelling's case is similar to that of Montrealer Mai Duong, who recently found a compatible umbilical-cord blood donor after months of searching for a match.

Now Skelling’s family is hoping they, too, can find a suitable donor. They are going out and meeting the public, trying to raise awareness about how to get tested and sign up for Quebec’s stem cell donor registry.

A simple cheek swab

Héma-Québec mails out cheek-swab test kits to prospective donors, which they can do at home then return by mail.

Héma-Quebec spokesman Laurent-Paul Ménard said the ideal match would have similar ancestry to Skelling's.

"We're looking for people who have origins from the United Kingdom, more specifically from Ireland, and also from Beauce and Chaudière-Appalaches regions," he said.

The agency is holding its annual blood drive at Bishop's College in Lennoxville on Nov. 17, and Ménard is hoping many young people will come forward there to sign up on the donor registry.

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