Sylvia Okonofua, of the University of Regina’s Stem Cell Club. (YouTube)

Sylvia Okonofua, of the University of Regina’s Stem Cell Club. (YouTube)

Most Black Canadians won’t find a stem cell donor in time; this group is working to change that

Less than 3 per cent of stem cell donors are Black

A group of advocates is urging Black Canadians to sign up as stem cells donors.

The appeal, which comes during Black History Month, cites a sobering statistic: Black people make up less than three per cent of the Canadian stem cell donor registry.

“That means that lots of people waiting for a stem cell transplant don’t get their match and then die,” said Sylvia Okonofua, of the University of Regina’s Stem Cell Club, in a video posted to the club’s website.

According to the club’s data, only 16 to 19 per cent of Black patients find a matching unrelated donor, compared to 75 per cent of white patients. That’s largely because of how fell Black stem cell donors there are in Canada’s registry; according to the Stem Cell Club, 0.37 per cent of potential donors are Black-African, 0.26 per cent are Black-Caribbean and 0.90 per cent are designated as Black-other. According to the latest census, roughly 3.5 per cent of the population was Black in 2016.

Okonofua said the lack of Black donors can be deadly because it’s easier to find a donor match from people with the same race and ethnicity as the recipient.

“Only people with your specific genetic markers can actually become matches for you,” she noted, adding that the Stem Cell Club and Canadian Blood Services are working together to recruit Black entertainers and celebrities to spread the word.

In order to register, people can visit: www.blood.ca/en/stemcells. Those who sign up will be sent a swab kit and added to the registry for when a matching recipient needs stem cells. Ninety per cent of donors will be able to give using a procedure similar to giving blood, while less than 10 per cent will give bone marrow.

@stemcellclub

Who’s in your swabbing squad? Repost from @utscstemcellclub #stemcells #donation #savelives #uoft #toronto #canada

♬ original sound – Stem Cell Club

ALSO READ: ‘Systemic racism’ in Canada reflected in health, income and other indicators


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Black History MonthHealthcarevideo

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Some of the folks behind Angel Flight East Kootenay: Todd Weselake is a director, partner and pilot while Brent Bidston is the president and lead pilot of the not-for-profit. Pictured here with their older plane, they hope to get an upgrade for thanks to RDEK funding. (Image courtesy of Angel Flight East Kootenay)
Angel Flight secures RDEK funding for next five years

$100,000 will go to the not-for-profit each year, with the funds to be used to acquire a larger plane

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Ryan Bavin of Bavin Glassworks in Invermere. Photo: Submitted
Call for entries for Columbia Basin Culture Tour

Deadline for registration for artists and venues is April 15

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read