Hi all, thanks for joining us for our live discussion on this fascinating issue - in Wednesday's Globe and Mail, Andre Picard wrote about how social media is fuelling the matching of stem-cell donors with those desperately in need - click here
for the full story.
Andre, thanks for your time today. Just for a bit of background, how common are stem-cell transplants in Canada today?
by Jennifer MacMillan 4/5/2012 5:03:56 PM
There are more than 300 stem cell transfusion from unmatched donors annually - and others that come from family members. Still small numbers but a lot of promise. Currently, stem cells can treat almost 50 conditions - most blood-related. But there is potential to treat heart disease and dementia in the future that make a good data bank essential.
by André Picard 4/5/2012 5:06:01 PM
And I'd also like to welcome Candace Weimer to our chat.
by Jennifer MacMillan 4/5/2012 5:07:29 PM
I should add that, at any given time, almost 1,000 Canadians are waiting for a livesaving transfusion of stem cells or bone marrow. So the demand is much greater than the available matches.
by André Picard 4/5/2012 5:07:43 PM
Thanks for having me.
by Candace Weimer 4/5/2012 5:08:18 PM
Candace is a cancer survivor who received a stem-cell transplant, and was featured in Andre's reporting.
Candace, could you tell us a little bit about your illness and how the stem-cell transplant helped you?
by Jennifer MacMillan 4/5/2012 5:08:28 PM
I am a lucky one, suriving a stem cell transplant.
by Candace Weimer 4/5/2012 5:08:30 PM
I was given 2 years to live when I contracted a bone disease that simply stopped my marrow from producing blood.
by Candace Weimer 4/5/2012 5:09:06 PM
The stem cell transplant literally saved and extended my life. I was given the transplant six years ago thanks to my brother.
by Candace Weimer 4/5/2012 5:09:36 PM
Lucy, I have to honest, it is long and anything can happen! Immunosuppressed patients can contract infection very easily. It took approximately 3- 4 years for me to feel 'normal' again.
by Candace Weimer 4/5/2012 5:10:47 PM
Candace was lucky. Only one in four people find a match within their family. Others need to depend on the generosity of strangers. That's why there is an unrelated stem cell and bone marrow registry.
by André Picard 4/5/2012 5:11:01 PM
Good Point, Andre.
by Candace Weimer 4/5/2012 5:11:31 PM
Lucy, are you going through a stem cell transplant?
by Candace Weimer 4/5/2012 5:11:49 PM
Transplant - whether it's stem cells or a solid organ - is a difficult procedure. They essentially destroy your immune system with chemotherapy to avoid rejection. But the risk is worth it because the alternative at the point you need a transplant is usually death.
by André Picard 4/5/2012 5:12:53 PM
For those who are considering donating stem cells to a registry, what is the procedure like?
by Jennifer MacMillan 4/5/2012 5:13:37 PM
It is relatively easy. It is like a two hour blood donation where blood is extracted out of one arm, spun and the stem cells (immature red blood cells) are extracted. The red and white blood cells are then replaced into the donor's arm.
by Candace Weimer 4/5/2012 5:15:00 PM
Bone marrow donation is a bit more complicated where there is cores of bone marrow extracted from the donor's femur/hip area.
by Candace Weimer 4/5/2012 5:15:31 PM