Oct. 18, 2023Print | PDF
A group of students at Wilfrid Laurier University is shining a spotlight on the need for diversity among stem cell donors in Canada.
Get Swabbed at Laurier organizes campus outreach events to raise awareness among students about Canadian Blood Services’ Stem Cell Registry and how individuals can help patients in need of a life-saving blood stem cell donation.
Hundreds of Canadians are in need of blood stem cell donations. Patients are more likely to find a matching donor among those who share their ethnic ancestry, with stem cell donors between the ages of 17 and 35 providing patients the best chance of long-term survival following a transplant. Undergraduate and graduate students traditionally fall within this age range, making them an important audience to connect with.
“Stem cell transplants can be used to treat more than 80 diseases and disorders, including cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma,” says Mackenzie Schuler, president of Get Swabbed at Laurier student club. “Our club aims to educate students about the life-saving impact they can have on patients in need.”
Get Swabbed at Laurier will host stem cell donation information sessions and swabbing events Oct. 20 and Dec. 1 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the lobby of the Athletic Complex at the Waterloo campus.
Club members will guide prospective donors through Canadian Blood Services’ online eligibility questionnaire and registration process. Eligible donors will be provided with a kit to collect tissue cells by swabbing the inside of their cheeks. Tissue cells collected from donor cheek swabs are used to determine their human leukocyte antigen (HLA) type. Donors and patients are matched by their HLA type, which is different from matching blood types.
A representative from Canadian Blood Services will collect completed swabbing kits at the completion of the events. Swabs will undergo HLA-typing before donor profiles are added to the stem cell registry and become searchable for patients in need.
Schuler says Get Swabbed at Laurier hopes the information and swabbing events will encourage at least 100 Laurier students to join Canadian Blood Services’ Stem Cell Registry by the end of the year. The club welcomes all undergraduate and graduate students to attend the events and learn more about stem cell donation.
“You could be the perfect match for someone in need of a life-saving stem cell transplant,” says Schuler. “That is a beautiful gift to be able to give someone if you can.”
Get Swabbed at Laurier also supports Canadian Blood Services by raising awareness about how blood donors help keep Canadian communities healthy and strong. The club will host a blood drive at Canadian Blood Services Waterloo clinic, 94 Bridgeport Rd. E., on Oct. 31 from 2 to 7 p.m. Book your donation appointment online at blood.ca.
Complimentary transportation to and from the clinic is available for groups of three or more by calling Waterloo Taxi at 519.888.7777.
Join Laurier’s Partners for Life team to have your donation included in the university's annual pledge. Laurier has pledged 475 donations in 2023.
Support Laurier’s partnership with Canadian Blood Services:
If you are unsure if you are eligible to donate, please visit the Canadian Blood Services eligibility page or call 1.888.2.DONATE to speak with a nurse.