| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 05, 2012 06:00 am
Hundreds of Albertans have added their names to the bone-marrow donor list after hearing about Halle Popowich, a St. Albert resident in need of a transplant.
Popowich, 5, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in mid-June and is waiting to find a donor.
Olga Pazukha, spokesperson with Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, described the influx of donors as “great” but said more “optimal donors” are still needed.
Roughly 600 individuals, most of them men and women over 35, have signed up at www.onematch.ca to be added to the list.
“Our needs are primarily with young men 17 to 35,” she said. “They are most likely to be selected by our doctors to help our patients because they really have the biggest impact on our patients because they can offer the best results for patients after transplant.”
Males 17 to 35 from ethnically diverse backgrounds are also needed.
“We certainly had a great response from the community, but unfortunately, a lot of the response hasn’t been from those diverse donors,” she said.
The Popowich family could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but said previously they were hoping to use their story to help others.
“We are hoping that (Halle’s) story is used to spread awareness and help so many others who need bone marrow transplants,” said mother Deana Popowich. “There’s so many families that we have met while living at the Stollery Children’s Hospital and everyone has a story, different than ours, but just as heart-breaking.”
She said people looking to help could also donate blood, as leukemia requires numerous blood transfusions.
Halle has received at least eight blood transfusions and at least 10 platelet transfusions since her diagnosis, Deana said.
In an effort to attract optimal donors the network is hosting Get Swabbed!, a national campaign to encourage optimal donors from various universities to become donors. The event will be held at the University of Alberta from Nov. 1 to 17.