Patients with blood cancers may require a stem cell transplant as part of their treatment. However, 80% of patients do not have a suitable match in their family, and must find an unrelated donor. Canada’s stem cell donor-database is used to match potential donors to patients. Individuals age 17-35 can register to join this database at stem cell drives, where they swab their cheeks to provide a tissue sample for a DNA test. Finding a match for transplant is difficult: currently, over 1000 Canadians cannot find a match.
The Stem Cell Club aims to strengthen Canada’s stem cell donor-database (www.stemcellclub.ca). We seek to recruit the most-needed stem cell donors, and advance health equity by improving representation of non-Caucasians (including Aboriginal Peoples) on Canada’s donor-database.
Our club trains students to advocate for patients in need of stem cell transplant, and to develop leadership and teamwork skills. We instruct them to secure informed consent and to identify and correct medical errors.
Our goal is to recruit and train hundreds of volunteers to advocate for patients in need of stem cell transplant, and present all students at UofT with the opportunity to register as stem cell donors.