By Kelly Crawford

M’CHIGEENG FN –A local nurse can vouch for the importance of First Nations getting information about rare blood disorders.

“I have been diagnosed with Myeloblastic Dysplasia Syndrome,” says Christy Taibossigai, who is urging members of her First Nations community to participate in a OneMatch information session at Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute this Friday –Valentine’s Day.

“This is a very serious blood cancer, often leading to leukemia,” says Taibossigai, who was diagnosed in June 2013. “The cure for this condition is to have a bone marrow transplant.”

A match for Taibossigai has been found, but in November a specialist recommended the transplant is not needed at this time.

The diagnosis sparked Christy’s research into MDS.

“When I think about all the families that are affected by this disease…we have to do something,” she says.

Canadian Blood Services information says “A person’s best chance of finding a matching donor is within his or her own ethnic group. It is important that the donors on OneMatch reflect Canada’s rich ethnic diversity.

 “First Nations people have a genetic make-up that is unique to North America. Finding a matching donor for a First Nations patient overseas is unlikely.”

The M’Chigeeng Health Centre, Canadian Blood Services and OneMatch are looking for First Nations male heroes aged 17 to 35 to attend an information session at Kenjgewin Teg Feb. 14. Female donors can also be considered.

“We feel it is important for our health centre team to become as informed as possible to help promote awareness for this information session,” explains Taibossigai. “My wish is to see 100 people donate through this session.”

It only takes three easy steps to join OneMatch. The first step involves becoming informed about the process and gain a basic understanding of stem cell donation. Participantsl take part in an information session and answer 10 True or False questions. The second step is to complete an online health assessment and consent form. The final step is to have your cheek swabbed.

OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network is responsible for finding and matching volunteer donors to patients who require stem cell transplants. Fewer than 30 per cent of patients who need stem cell transplants find a compatible donor within their own family. The rest rely on those who have volunteered to donate stem cells to patients in need.

Information sessions will take place in KTEI’s main lobby on Feb. 14 from 11 am-12 Noon and 1-2 pm.

For more information contact the M’Chigeeng Health Centre at 705-377-5347.