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More stem cell donors needed to save lives in Sask.
Published Tuesday, February 28, 2017 1:40PM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 28, 2017 1:44PM CST
Lincoln Honoway found his match in time, but others aren't so lucky.
More than 800 Canadians are currently waiting for an unrelated stem cell donor. Only one in two find a match.
One year ago, Lincoln was admitted to hospital with dangerously low blood counts. He was diagnosed with aplastic anemia and needed a bone marrow transplant.
Lincoln's three siblings were all tested, but none were a match. However, in September Lincoln successfully received a bone marrow transplant from an anonymous pen pal.
The Honoway family believes the donor was a woman, based on cards that have been sent back and forth since the transplant.
"She was our only hope to save our son’s life,” said Lincoln’s mother, Erica Honoway. “I need her to know how grateful we are."
The OneMatch registry collects all potential stem cell donors in Canada. Once a cheek swab is processed, your information stays within the registry and you will only be contacted if you are a potential match.
In 2009-10, 91 Canadians on the registry donated stem cells. So far this year, 50 Canadians have donated.
Seven-year-old Vonn Chorneyko and his family are hoping he will soon be among those lucky enough to find a match. Vonn has fanconi anemia.
"It's really rare to find a match,” said Vonn’s mother, Ashley Chorneyko. “I just hope and pray that one will be there when we need one."
Vonn is happy, healthy and stable. But in the future, his blood counts will lower and he will eventually need a transplant.
"It’s always a last resort. You wait, you push it off as long as you can with the transfusions," Ashley said. "It could be another year, hopefully longer."
The Honoways will be able to put a face to the handwriting when they are eligible to meet Lincoln's donor in September 2018. Until then, they’re focusing their efforts on saving other lives.
"We need to turn this negative into a positive and we need to get more people donating blood,” said Erica. “We need to get more people on the OneMatch registry."