By Will Koblensky
More blood and stem cell donors are needed, especially young ethnically diverse males for the later. Hailu Mulatu is the donor management coordinator at OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, a Canadian Blood Services program, and he has been giving talks at Colleges and High Schools around Toronto including Centennial’s Progress Campus.
“Seventy-five percent of the patients rely on someone they do not know and someone would be of the same ethnic background as the patient is,” said Mr. Mulatu regarding the need for stem cells.
“Young male donors provide a better outcome for the patient,” he explained, “A patient has the best chance of finding a donor from their own ethnic background.” Because less than one percent of the network of potential stem cell donors identify as African-Canadian or Aboriginal, Mr. Mulatu has been advocating on behalf of One Match to encourage 17 to 25 year-olds to give.
On the blood side, Tija Freimuta has been giving blood for almost a year, carrying on her fathers tradition. The Linguistics student at University of Toronto is an A (negative) who goes to the Bay and Bloor blood clinic.
“People don’t understand how necessary it is,” Tija said “Once you start its easier after you get over ‘Oh my God there’s a needle in my arm.’”
Tija advises that the system could improve on wait times, open hours and staff. “There are very limited hours, a lot people end up showing up at the same time,” she said “Last time I showed up people were waiting for half an hour to forty-five minutes.”