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Assembly of First Nations Passes Resolution Encouraging Aboriginal People to Become Potential Stem Cell Donors


The Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada and Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell & Marrow Network working together to save lives

September 20, 2011 (OTTAWA) - The Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada (A.N.A.C.) and Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network have brought forth a joint resolution to the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) that encourages all First Nations people to register with the OneMatch Network. The A.N.A.C. has been working in partnership with OneMatch since 2009 by promoting awareness amongst Aboriginal People for the need to support the Network in order to increase support for Aboriginal patients. The more Aboriginal people join, the more Aboriginal patients will have opportunities to access matched stem cell donors.

OneMatch is currently supporting 14 Aboriginal patients in need of a stem cell transplant. Although OneMatch has over 300,000 registrants willing to donate their stem cells to any patient in need, Aboriginal peoples are under-represented and make up only 0.9 percent of the Network. As a patients’ best chance of finding a match are within their own ethnic group, more Aboriginal people are desperately needed to join.

The A.N.A.C. and OneMatch are hoping the resolution will not only highlight the need for more Aboriginal stem cell donors but also infuse a sense of urgency for this important cause amongst all Band Councils.

“The resolution is a significant step towards increasing support for Aboriginal patients through better access to unrelated stem cell donors,” says A.N.A.C. President Dr. Evelyn Voyageur. Dr. Voyageur adds that “with AFN’s support OneMatch and A.N.A.C. will continue to instil the urgent need for cooperation on this issue among all Band Councils nationwide.”

Chief Patrick James of the Mowachaht Frist Nation and Chief Ben Jack Sr. of the Muchalaht First Nation, both in the Tsanxana Village in Gold River B.C., are endorsing the resolution. With family members affected by leukemia, both Chiefs know firsthand the crucial importance for more Aboriginal stem cell donors.

Chief James suffers from the same disease and so far doctors have been unable to find him a match. “You never know who is going to be affected by cancer and who is going to be in need of a stem cell transplant. I worry about my own children – I worry about leaving them behind and I worry that they may also be in need some day. We need to stand together on this as a community – we need to learn more and we need to register today. All it takes is a simple saliva test and about 10-minutes of your time. It’s something so easy to do and you could actually save a life.”

For personal stories of the urgent need for more stem cell donors within the Aboriginal community view the latest OneMatch videos with leukemia patients Chief Patrick James and four-year old Gabe Callicum and his family (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UntlkuRda80, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRHEofQAGfk.)

Jennifer Philippe, Director of the OneMatch Stem Cell & Marrow Network says the AFN’s endorsement has a direct impact on Aboriginal recruitment. “OneMatch wants and needs to embark on awareness initiatives through the Aboriginal communities in Canada. With the support of the Chiefs and the Elders OneMatch and the A.N.A.C. are confident the message will spread and more Aboriginal people will step forward, register with the Network and provide hope to all patients in need of a stem cell transplant and their families.”

Currently, the quickest way to register is through online registration at www.onematch.ca. You can also call Canadian Blood Services at 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283) to have a registration package mailed to your address.

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About the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada

Founded by a small group of very determined and committed Aboriginal nurses in 1974, the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada has been working to improve the health of all Aboriginal people for 36 years. Its mission seeks to join nurses with a common vision of wellness for Aboriginal peoples by recognizing that health needs can best be met and understood by health professionals of a similar cultural background and by uniting health professionals to empower Aboriginal peoples to make a positive difference in their community. For more information, please visit our website at indigenousnurses.ca.

About Canadian Blood Services OneMatch Stem Cell & Marrow Network

Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network is a program dedicated to recruiting healthy, committed volunteer donors for patients in need of blood (hematopoietic) stem cells. OneMatch also conducts searches for matched, unrelated donors for patients; ensures donors are healthy and able to donate; and, coordinates the collection and delivery of stem cells in Canada and around the world. As an accredited member of the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA), OneMatch represents an important part of an international group of 66 registries and 47 cord blood banks that transmit their donor HLA typing results to Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide (BMDW). As a result, when searching on behalf of Canadian patients, OneMatch has access to more than 18.1 million volunteer donors in 28 countries and more than 486,000 cord blood units from 47 cord banks in 28 countries. As part of Canadian Blood Services, the provincial and territorial Ministries of Health provide operational funding to OneMatch. For more information, please visit our Web site at www.onematch.ca.

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