Martin stands out in my youth as someone who didn’t seem to mind that I was the awkward kid, and treated me like a friend. He invited me regularly to be part of celebrating his birthdays, and to hangouts over tennis, movies, videogames, and sometimes boxing matches. I think it was through him and his family that I first learned how good meat sauce spaghetti could taste, and how fun early 90s games could be like Jetpack. His warmth and friendliness extend to practically everyone he meets, as so many kids he coached can tell you.
Aggressive leukemia at 30 was the last thing any of us thought he would go through. He deserves to live and touch the lives of others for so much longer. But the odds are against him, and every patient finding a matching stem cell donor, so that’s why we want to flood the donor pool with as many people as possible to save him and everyone waiting. Your sibling has the highest chance to match you at 25%, after which it’s people with the same ethnicity. The donor pool needs more ethnic registrants though. Caucasians are 70% of Canada’s donor pool, Chinese are 15%, but Filipinos like Martin are less than 1%. Other groups with less than 1% are Africans, First Nations, Middle Easterners, and Central Americans. Canada can only access some countries’ donor pools too because not every country has joined the same list of standards.
If you matched someone, donating actually has become an easy process. Sarah Jasmins, territory manager for Western Canada at Canadian Blood Services, says that last year, around 90% of donations happened by filtering blood for circulating stem cells. Rarely, but if you are asked for bone marrow, it’s a procedure done in 45-90 minutes under anesthesia, and you are back to a normal routine in a few days, if not the next day. Sarah knows the story of a 4 year old girl who donated to her baby brother this way, and she was up laughing and playing the next day! It feels comparable to a fall on the ice afterwards. They won’t pressure you to do it right away, most people choose a Friday to ensure they’re Monday-ready.
Please consider helping. We as his friends and allies are giving this fight everything we’ve got, but we need you to join us too. We can only do so much alone, and we really don’t know when things will turn around in our favor despite all that we do. This is a cancer that HAS a cure - that cure, is all of us.