On Friday March 16, Brock Stem Cells will be hosting their Stem Cell Drive in Guernsey Market to help match students with people they can help. With a simple swab of the inside of their cheek, a student’s DNA will be sent off to the Canadian OneMatch database of potential donors. The database is designed so that once an individual needs a stem cell donation, a person who has given their sample is notified through OneMatch and given the option of donating their stem cells.
“There are many Stem Cell Clubs all over Canada,” explained Julie Finnigan, an Honours Bachelor of Science student at Brock who helps to run the Brock Stem Cell Club on campus.
Brock Stem Cells works closely with OneMatch, which is a division of Canadian Blood Services, on their donation to drives.
“We work in collaboration with OneMatch to increase the quality and number of potential stem cell donors in our national Canadian database,” Finnigan stated. “Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can turn into almost any type of cell in the body. They are especially important, and in short supply, for people with certain blood diseases like leukemia.”
Brock Stem Cells runs multiple stem cells drives, up to a total of four per year. All on-campus drives are dedicated to the goal of increasing the amount of donors who are available to those who need stem cells in Canada.
“At a stem cell drive, potential donors swab the inside of their cheeks to put some of their cheek cells on the swabs, and then this is sent to OneMatch and the donor is put on the Canadian database,” Finnigan elaborated. “When someone (like a cancer patient) is in need of a stem cell transplant, they register with the database and all potential donors are searched for any matches. It is very rare to find a match, so through our drives we aim to improve the chances that patients in-need of stem cell transplantation will find that one match to save their lives.”
“In addition to our efforts to advance stem cell donor recruitment in Canada, our group works to advance Canada’s blood health through blood donor recruitment and by supporting the activities of Canadian Blood Services,” Finnigan explained.
Finnigan also discussed how crucial the roles of volunteers are to ensuring successful on-campus drives.
“The members of our club are valued volunteers for the drives,” Finnigan explained. “In fact, it would not be possible to run our drives without our volunteers! There are many stations volunteers can work at a drive, including promotion, registration, swabbing, and reconciliation. Volunteers are required to complete one level of training (which takes about an hour) before they are able to volunteer at a drive. Also, our club runs a meeting before each drive to ensure our volunteers are prepared and confident in their abilities to perform the tasks that will be expected of them during a drive. Volunteers are welcome to volunteer as much or as little as they are able to fit in their schedule, and we track all volunteer hours with Experience Plus.”
The Stem Cell Drive will be held on Friday, March 16 in Guernsey Market on campus from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. For more information, visit the official Stem Cell Club website at http://stemcellclub.ca/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.