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Love Over Fear event in Vancouver wants to see more diverse stem cell registry

Last Updated Mar 19, 2017 at 2:36 pm PST

(iStock)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A rally at Jack Poole Plaza to fight against discrimination will also use the forum as a platform to promote ethnic diversity within stem cell registries.

The Love Over Fear event is drawing young people from across the region to speak out against racial biases.

The event is being organized by a group of young people from various backgrounds, and will provide a platform for people to speak out against racism, and promote testing to increase stem cell donations.

“The stem cell drive is happening because a good friend of ours, another organizer, his niece actually passed away about a year ago, due to not being able to find anyone that matched her for stem cells”, says rally organizer Abubakar Khan.

“We want to get more people to be able to just get swabbed.”

Canadian Blood Services has been invited to run the drive and is looking for a particular group of people to step up to the plate.

“We’re looking for men especially to register because there is a greater need for male registrants”, said Trudi Goels, who manages the Stem Cell Territory for BC & the Yukon.

She says the current registry in Canada is about 31 per cent ethnically diverse and 69 per cent Caucasian. The CBS is looking to increase the number of diverse donors, and build a network that “accurately represents Canada’s growing ancestral mosaic”.

Goels says patients are likely to find a donor from their own ethnic background.

“More than 800 patients in Canada right now who need a stem cell transplant,” she adds.

Both Goels and Khan agree the reason for a lack of diversity in the registry is due to a lack of public education.

They hope today’s event will highlight the need for registrants and open the dialogue around why it’s important to have diversity in the network.

The Love Over Fear event is being held at Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver and will run until 5 p.m.