Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common rapidly-progressing leukemia in adults. In AML, the bone marrow makes abnormal white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. The consequence is anemia, bleeding risks, and an inability to fight infections. Chemotherapy is the usual initial approach. When it cannot bring a remission, the best treatment option may be a stem cell transplant. In order to successfully donate stem cells, there must be a compatible match of cell antigens between the donor and the recipient. Family members may or may not be good recipients – successful donors can be be completely unrelated. Ethnic similarities may mean better matches, too.
A pharmacist colleague of mine in Toronto has AML – and I’m asking for your help. Catherine Anagnostopoulos, a 44 year old mother of three, is in urgent need of stem cell transplant. To date, no successful donor has been identified. Cathy is of Greek origin, but anyone is encouraged to register in their national stem cell and bone marrow registry – stem cells cross borders all the time.
After answering a short health questionnaire, you will be sent a kit by mail. Rub a swab on the inside of your cheek, drop it in the mail, and you’re registered. If you are a match for any needy recipient, you’ll be contacted. The actual transplant procedure, in many cases, is similar to donating blood. In Canada, visit the One Match Stem Cell and Marrow Network. In the USA, visit Be The Match. (Please post any other known registries in the comments).
If you’re in Toronto, there are three community swabbing events scheduled in the next few weeks:
- Wednesday, April 13th 2011, 2:00pm to 8:00pm, Leaside Blood Donor Clinic and Swabbing Event, Northlea Elementary & Middle School, 305 Rumsey Rd, Toronto, Ontario, (North Gymnasium)
- Wednesday, April 20th 2011, 3:00pm to 7:00pm, Presteign Heights Elementary School, 2570 St. Clair Ave. East, Toronto, Ontario M4B 1M3
- Sunday, May 1st 2011, 12:00 pm to 6:00pm, St. John’s Greek Orthodox Church, 1385 Warden Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, (Youth Centre Gymnasium)
For more information on Cathy, see Help Save Cathy. Please help Cathy via Facebook, and Twitter. And please pass the message on. Cathy and many other people need the gift of life that you alone may be able to give.