Gina Parker

The Schilly Award

Manitoba, North Eastern Ontario, and Nunavut

When Gina first partnered with Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network in 2011, she had only one goal in mind: saving her younger brother Jonny’s life.

Jonny, diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, was told he would need a stem cell transplant to survive. Devastated to learn her stem cells were not a match for Jonny, Gina’s spirits lifted when she was encouraged to volunteer with OneMatch in the hopes of finding an unrelated donor for her brother.

Gina began volunteering at multiple swabbing clinics. However, she faced adversity when she learned that Carleton University, where she was a student, had a longstanding internal ban against blood donation and stem cell registration.

Intent on making a change, Gina threw herself into putting together a motion to end the university-wide ban. Unfortunately, the motion failed on her first attempt. Despite the setback, Gina tried again the following year and ran for a seat on the council herself. This time, the motion passed unanimously, and she landed a role as V.P. of student issues.

For the past several years, Gina has volunteered at on-campus events and stem cell drives in her community. She has also helped register close to 1,600 optimal stem cell donors: a feat that would not have been virtually impossible if not for the overturning of the Carleton ban.

Today, chemotherapy has put Jonny’s cancer into remission with no immediate need for a stem cell transplant. But this has not slowed his sister down: determined to find a matching donor for every patient in need, Gina continues to influence stem cell registration across the country as chair of the Get Swabbed!, National Liaison Committee, which looks to expand OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network’s presence at universities and colleges across Canada.

Gina Parker National Honouring our Lifeblood 2014