The Canadian Blood Services stem cell donation program is urging more people to sign up following the death of a young Richmond boy.
Associate Director at OneMatch, Dena Mercer, says there are about 800 Canadians looking for an unrelated donor.
“Our chances of finding a match for each patient certainly are greatly dependent on their ancestry and their DNA typing. So when someone is of mixed ancestry, it makes their ability to find a match even more difficult.”
Seven-year-old Joshua Weekes passed away from leukemia last Thursday after repeated attempts to find a bone marrow donor failed.
Mercer says they are targeting specific contributors.
“The prime candidates that we are looking for are males under the age of 35 and who are of ethnic diversity. The reason why we prefer males: their donation yields a greater patient outcome.”
Mercer says 70 per cent of One Match’s database is Caucasian, and that only a quarter of people searching for donors can find one in their family.
Every year, there are about 150 successful stem cell transplants from donors who aren’t related to patients in Canada.