Stem Cells

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Who Will I Be Helping?

Who Needs Stem Cells?

Stem cell transplants are used to treat some 80 diseases and disorders, including:

  • Certain forms of cancer, such as leukemias, lymphomas or myelomas
  • Bone marrow deficiency diseases caused by abnormal red blood cell production, such as thalassemia or sickle cell disease
  • Aplastic anemia (the lack of normal blood cell production)
  • Inherited immune system and metabolic disorders

Rick's Story

Patients like Rick are counting on finding a donor who is not a relative because no one in their family is a match. His story had a happy ending thanks to someone who decided to help.

Alysha's Story

Alysha is a fighter and continues to beat the odds. She may one day need another stem cell transplant.

A stem cell transplant is not the only solution for patients like Rick and Alysha who have leukemia or other cancers that cause bone marrow to function abnormally. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and specialized medications are tried first to stop the disease. When these do not work, or if the patient has a relapse, the only solution is to replace their stem cells with those from a person in good health.

A stem cell transplant is not the only solution for patients like Rick and Alysha who have leukemia or other cancers that cause bone marrow to function abnormally. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and specialized medications are tried first to stop the disease. When these do not work, or if the patient has a relapse, the only solution is to replace their stem cells with those from a person in good health.

To prepare for a transplant, the recipient is usually given high doses of radiation, chemotherapy or both to destroy the diseased marrow. People who receive unrelated stem cell transplants have to stay isolated in a sterile room until the transplant is successful and the new bone marrow has produced enough white blood cells to protect against bacteria.

More than 80 percent of Canadian patients receive stem cells from donors in other countries. Many more people could be helped with a larger base of donors here at home. 

 

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