Tuesday, 16 September 2014, 11:25 am

Saving lives OneMatch at a time

Lindy Brunarski, event organizer, and Sharr Cairns, OneMatch co-ordinator, at the OneMatch event on Jan. 8 at the Welland campus. By CHRISTINE DEMERS
Staff Writer
The Canadian Blood Services and Niagara College have teamed again with the hopes of saving more lives worldwide.
Canadian Blood Services was at the Welland campus on Jan. 8 for a OneMatch swabbing event and What’s Your Type? blood typing booth.
OneMatch is a program by the Canadian Blood Services connected to the Stem Cell and Marrow Network. It is designed to recruit blood stem cell donors.
OneMatch also works to “conduct searches for patients who need a blood stem cell transplant” and they “co-ordinate the collection and delivery when a match is found,” said Marcia Young, the community development co-ordinator responsible for clinics in the Niagara area.
“We are looking for healthy individuals committed to helping any patient in need anywhere in the world.” There is a higher chance of finding a match within the same ethnic group or from younger male donors, said Young.
The swabbing event held here was designed to add more people to the registry. So far, Canada’s database for the stem cell and marrow network “consists of 72 per cent Caucasian and 28 per cent of ethnic origin.” Anyone who registered will have their name entered into the database and they will be contacted when a match is found.
There were a total of 121 potential donors who registered to the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network here at the OneMatch event, said Sharr Cairns, donor management co-ordinator.
“Outstanding!”
Cairns said they were expecting 50 potential donors but they “stayed open later to accommodate more registrants.”
Cairns explained that very few people who need stem cell transplants can find a suitable donor within their family. Over 70 per cent of patients rely on donors.
This event was organized by Lindy Brunarski, a Niagara College Paramedic program graduate. She has been trying to create awareness ever since her friend Shane McCready was diagnosed with leukemia in December 2011. Unfortunately, McCready passed away in October 2012 but Brunarski never gave up.
Kristin Bortolon, a Paramedic student, helps students register at the OneMatch event on Jan. 8 at the Welland campus. PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE DEMERS“He was never well enough to get his stem transplant but he fought as hard as he could,” said Brunarski. McCready received over 130 units of blood in under a year.
Brunarski, with the help of current Paramedic students, helped run the OneMatch event.
Niagara College also had a What’s Your Type? booth set up for students to find out their blood type. Currently, there is a greater need for O negative across the country, said Young. All blood types are always needed and always greatly appreciated, however.
Young organizes blood donor clinics around the Niagara area. “My job is to recruit people to become blood donors by partnering with local schools, businesses, churches and corporations in order to make sure there is enough blood for patients in need.”
Every person can donate blood every 56 days. Young said, “One unit of blood comes from one donor.” Each unit is 500ml of blood and it can take multiple units to save one life. For example, it takes about eight units of blood each week for cancer treatment or up to 50 units for a car accident victim.
Therese Della Mora, a Dental Hygiene student, has donated blood seven times before.
“I honestly wish I could [donate] more often. You get treated like a hero and by the end of the day, you feel like one.” She said it’s a great feeling knowing you could save a life.
Jena O’Neil, a Community and Justice Services (Correctional Worker) student, has also donated blood before.
“It feels wonderful to give to people who are in dire need of it,” said O’Neil. “[Donating] makes me feel like I have a purpose to this community.”
Blood donating clinics are held monthly.
In the Niagara area, there are two clinics this month:  Saturday, Jan. 25 at Centennial High School, 240 Thorold Rd., 9 a.m. to noon and Wednesday, Jan. 29 at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre, 40 McCabe Ave., noon to 6 p.m.
To book an appointment or for more information, visit blood.ca or call 1-888-2-DONATE.
Remember, “It’s in you to give.”

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