Héma-Québec launches a stem cell donation awareness campaign in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region

Rimouski, January 18, 2016 - Héma-Québec is taking advantage of the blood drive organized by the Syndicat des pompiers de Rimouski to launch a stem cell donation awareness campaign in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region.

Bas-Saint-Laurent is one of the regions targeted by Héma-Québec’s Stem Cell Donor Registry as a place to recruit potential donors, i.e., volunteers willing to give their stem cells to anyone in need. Similar actions will be carried out this year in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Estrie and Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean.

“The movement of people and certain waves of immigration have contributed to the creation of geographic niches with regard to genetic profiles,” indicates Marie-Claire Chevrier, Director of the Héma-Québec Stem Cell Donor Registry. Each year, thousands of people are diagnosed with very serious diseases such as leukemia, other cancers or certain hereditary diseases. For many, a stem cell transplant is their last hope for survival.

Such was the case for Rimouski native Valérye Guimond Raymond, President of honour at today’s blood drive. In May 2013, after being diagnosed with leukemia and receiving several courses of chemotherapy, Valérye received a stem cell transplant from a donor in the U.S. Now in remission, Valérye is joining her voice to that of other volunteers trained by Héma-Québec to become an ambassador for the cause of stem cell donation in the area. “Without this transplant, I would not be here. Now, I have a second chance at life,” she says.

The chances of finding a compatible unrelated patient and donor vary based on the patient’s genetic makeup, and close to 50% of transplants performed involve donors and recipients from different countries.

By registering in the Stem Cell Donor Registry and speaking about the cause in their surroundings, Bas-Saint-Laurent residents will help to better reflect the composition of the Québec population and will also contribute to saving hundreds of lives right here in Québec, as well as elsewhere in the world.

The Stem Cell Donor Registry

Héma-Québec supplies stem cells in Canada and abroad. Its services include coordinating all the steps involved in the stem cell request, from research all the way to donation. It also manages Québec’s Stem Cell Donor Registry, an electronic database containing the names of close to 60,000 Quebecers who could potentially be called on to donate their stem cells to a patient in need. This database is linked to international registries, providing access to close to 27 million potential stem cell donors.

To join the Registry, you must be:

  • between the ages of 18 and 35;
  • in good health; and
  • willing to donate stem cells to anyone in need.

About Héma-Québec

Héma-Québec’s mission is to efficiently meet the needs of the Québec population for safe, optimal-quality blood and blood products, human tissues, cord blood, mother’s milk and cellular products; to develop and provide expertise and specialized, innovative services in the field of human biological products. Héma-Québec encompasses 1,300 employees, more than 300,000 donor attendances on blood collection sites every year, 16,000 volunteers and more than 500,000 blood products delivered annually to Québec hospitals to meet the needs of patients.

Give blood. Give life.

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