Hema-Quebec to Chinese community: please register stem cells
MONTREAL - It only takes 10 minutes and it could save a life – it's stem cell registration.
Montreal's Chinese community held a drive Saturday to urge people to register their stem cells with Hema-Quebec.
The organization, which seeks to provide blood and tissue to Quebecers, said minorities are under represented on their registry, and only 0.06 per cent of members of the Chinese community have registered their stem cells. With over 230 signed up, that number doubled Saturday at the successful drive.
Patients diagnosed with leukemia or other blood-related diseases often require compatible stem cells to survive, and while the most successful donors are usually family members, doctors look to patients' ethnic communities when there is no suitable relative.
With a goal of targeting 18 to 35 year-olds, volunteer Kathleen Wong said many people have misconceptions about donating their stem cells.
"People think that it's painful, but actually now with technology, there are multiple ways of doing it," she explained.
The more people Hema-Quebec signs up, the better a patient's chance for survival, explained Diane Roy of Hema-Quebec.
"We have patients within Canada who cannot find a donor and will lose their lives because there's nobody there to help them," she said.
Angela Huang, who helped organize the volunteers for Saturday's event, knows that reality all too well. She registered her stem cells three years ago after her grandfather and one of her friends died of leukemia.
Her friend waited a year to find a donor.
"It's very, very sad. She did find a match at the end, but it was way too late. What if she found it three months before?" said Huang.
For more information, or to join Hema-Quebec's stem cell donor list, click here.