Assessment of Barriers to Bone Marrow Stem Cell Donation in Chinese-Canadian Young Adults

Rui Chen; Gong, Merry; Loewe, Celeste; Ying Yao
April 2011
UBC Medical Journal;Apr2011, Vol. 2 Issue 2, p78
Academic Journal
Various life-threatening disorders (e.g. leukemia, lymphoma, etc.) can be treated with allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplants, which involve transplanting the donor's healthy stem cells to the patient's bone marrow to replaced diseased cells. Allogeneic donors and recipients must share compatible tissue markers (HLA) to minimize complications such as graft-versus-host disease. Over 70% of patients are unable to find a match within their families and must rely on the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network to search for an unrelated donor. A patient's best chance of finding a match is within the same ethnic group. People of Chinese ethnicity are highly underrepresented in the global stem cell registry (<4%). Chinese patients only have a 10% chance of finding an unrelated donor compared to an 80% chance for Caucasian patients. Furthermore, young adults, whose stem cells are healthiest and most suitable for donation, have relatively low registration rates in the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network. This project consists of three phases. During the first phase, UBC Chinese students aged 19-30 are surveyed to investigate common barriers or misconceptions that help to explain why Chinese- Canadian young adults are underrepresented in the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network. Phase two involves hosting two workshops to raise awareness and educate UBC students regarding hematopoietic stem cell transplants. Finally, phase three will conclude with two on-campus stem cell drives to increase donor registration in this age group. Preliminary results from the survey show that there is generally a lack of understanding of the process involved in hematopoietic stem cell transplants. For example, even among the 10% of respondents who are already registered as potential donors, over 70% of them were not aware that hematopoietic stem cells can be collected from peripheral blood. Many respondents expressed willingness to register, but the most common barrier is lack of understanding of the process. It is hoped that the results of this project will be a valuable resource to contribute to the success of future stem cell campaigns and the recruitment of potential donors.


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