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

A cat died in this house fire in Sidney afternoon. The fire started on the house’s deck and spread from that point. Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brett Mikkelsen said the permanent presence of crews at the Community Safety Building prevented worse damage. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Firth)
Sidney house fire kills cat, causes extensive damage

Official says fire started on deck and damage to the house could have been worse

Millstream Village is welcoming a new Marshalls location March 9. (Photo courtesy GWL Realty Advisors)
New Marshalls store in Langford brings boost to women in need

Retailer will hold opening ceremony in Millstream Village March 9

Abstract Developments is donating $75,000 to support community programming at The Cridge Centre for the Family. (Courtesy of The Cridge Centre)
Victoria developer builds support for community programs

Abstract Developments donates $75,000 to The Cridge Centre for the Family

SD 62 (Sooke) has announced a COVID-19 exposure at David Cameron Elementary in Colwood. Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Black Press Media File).
COVID-19 exposure at Colwood’s David Cameron Elementary

Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Office vacancy rates are rising in Greater Victoria while the supply of industrial land is shrinking. (Black Press Media File)
Report finds supply of industrial land in Greater Victoria shrinking

Office vacancy rates in Greater Victoria continue to rise

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read