Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada and OneMatch Sign Momentous Agreement

National awareness week event formalizes association’s commitment to Aboriginal stem cell patients in Canada

OTTAWA, NOVEMBER 18, 2009 – The Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada (A.N.A.C.) and Canadian Blood Services’ stem cell program, OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, officially celebrate the signing of a historic Memorandum of Understanding (M.O.U.) today during a traditional Aboriginal ceremony at Canadian Blood Services’ Head Office in Ottawa. This event is part of many other activities taking place from coast-to-coast to celebrate National Stem Cell Awareness Week.This significant agreement is the culmination of a recent workshop held in Edmonton Alberta that focused on health care delivery within Aboriginal society across Canada. This workshop provided insights into the needs and requirements each individual community or band may hold towards providing DNA sample (buccal swab) collections and OneMatch information to their people. These critical learnings will continue to provide OneMatch and A.N.A.C. the ability to carry forward a practical and sustainable program for the A.N.A.C. nurses to take into their communities in hopes of increasing the number of Aboriginal Peoples on Canada’s stem cell registry.

“Aboriginal Peoples are immensely under-represented on the network,” says Rosella Kinoshameg, President A.N.A.C. “We know this means that an Aboriginal person waiting for a transplant has a much greater hill to climb when finding his or her match. As Aboriginal community health care workers, we understand the vital role we can play in reversing this trend and helping to find a match. This signing today and last month’s workshop in Alberta will help us do our part by uniting our community band members towards understanding this critical healthcare issue. Once we do this, we are on the road to saving more Aboriginal patients currently waiting for a stem cell transplant.”

Jennifer Philippe, Director of the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network knows that having a nationally respected organization such as the A.N.A.C. take this message of need into Aboriginal communities is crucial to increasing the number of Aboriginal donors on the registry.

Terry Thorsen of B.C. is one of those patients. Terry was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago and has received an unrelated stem cell transplant from someone who took time to, ‘be the one match to save a life.’ “Terry’s case is a good news story that underscores the need for more ethnically diverse donors from all of our multicultural communities – including Aboriginal, on the network,” says Philippe.

“But others continue to be not as fortunate as Terry. Today, four (4) patients of Aboriginal heritage are waiting desperately for a stem cell transplant. Out of over 253,000 searchable donors on the network in Canada, only 2,292 are Aboriginal, and of that, only 898 under 40 years of age. Finding a match for a patient is often like finding a needle in a haystack. Any individual can have difficulty finding a matching donor, depending on the complexity of their genetic finger-print. This is why we need more young Aboriginal donors now and by working with A.N.A.C. we are hopeful these numbers will change”

Only 30 per cent of patients in need of a stem cell transplant will find a match within their own family – the rest turn to OneMatch. The network is currently searching for stem cell matches for over 800 patients across the country – patients suffering from life-threatening illnesses such leukemia, aplastic anemia or various immune disorders. The best chances of finding a match for these patients are within their own ethnic group.

The theme for the week, “Partners Uniting Lives,” spotlights the vital link between two groups: on one hand – stakeholders, such as stem cell donors, transplant centres, and diverse communities, and on the other – the hundreds of patients in Canada desperately hoping for a stem cell transplant. It is also an opportunity to thank partners for their support in communities across the country and for the lives saved as a result of their efforts. The smudging event is just one of the many outreaches taking place with diverse community groups across the country to mobilize awareness of the need for ethnically diverse donors to take up the cause and register

Visit www.onematch.ca to learn more or to register as a stem cell donor.

Event Details:

Where: Canadian Blood Services Head Office, 1800 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa

When: 11:00 a.m.

Media opportunities:
• Audio/visual rich venue with traditional Aboriginal singing and dancing.
• Interview opportunities with Aboriginal stem cell recipient, local transplant hospital official, National Aboriginal Nurses Association spokesperson, OneMatch spokesperson.
• Formal Memorandum of Understanding signing.
About Canadian Blood Services

Canadian Blood Services is a national, not-for-profit charitable organization that manages the supply of blood and blood products in all provinces and territories outside of Quebec. Canadian Blood Services also oversees the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, and provides national leadership for organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Canadian Blood Services operates 41 permanent collection sites and more than 20,000 donor clinics annually. The provincial and territorial Ministries of Health provide operational funding to Canadian Blood Services. The federal government, through Health Canada, is responsible for regulating the blood system. For more information, please visit our Web site at www.blood.ca.


Media contact:

John Bromley Audrey Lawrence
National Communications Manager Executive Director,
OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network A.N.A.C.
Canadian Blood Services 613 724-4677, Ext. 23
(416) 313-4438 alawrence[at]anac.on.ca
(416) 573-2172 (cell)

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