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

In a letter to Fraser Health board chair Jim Sinclair and president and CEO Dr. Victoria Lee Jan. 28, Delta Mayor George Harvie pitched the City of Delta become the lease holder of the Harold and Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care building after it is vacated by the Delta Hospice Society. (The Canadian Press photo)
Delta Hospice Society must vacate premises by March 29: Fraser Health

The health authority served the society a notice of breach of lease on Feb. 25

RCMP are looking for “an unknown man who wrapped his arms around” a female youth in Clayton Feb. 26. (Black Press file photo)
Youth assaulted by unknown man in Cloverdale

Mounties looking for ‘tall and thin’ Caucasian man in his 40’s with short dark brown hair

Framed photos of Travis Selje and other items fill the top of a dresser in his bedroom. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Crown says defence case epilepsy caused fatal Surrey crash fails on balance of probabilities

‘She very clearly had some form of control over that vehicle,’ Crown argues

Alex Browne photo The felling of two mature Douglas Fir ‘eagle trees’ on Oxford Street, just south of Prospect Avenue, in June of 2019, prompted a review of tree management bylaws and policies now before White Rock council. The trees were felled on instructions from City of White Rock staff, who said the work was necessary because they had become hazardous. (File photo)
City of White Rock mulls ‘tree protection’ bylaw

More stringent measures needed to protect canopy – councillor

teeaser
Surrey TEDx talks move online with ‘fast-paced’ event that’s free to watch March 27

Last year’s TEDxBearCreekPark attracted 900 spectators to Bell theatre

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

Passengers aboard Komagata Maru in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, 1914 - Library and Archives Canada image
Abbotsford council is asked to rename street in memory of Komagata Maru victims

Most of 376 the passengers aboard ship were denied entry into Canada in 1914

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

Most Read