I first heard about Alex Blake from a colleague at work. Alex is a 13 year old girl dying of cancer. Acute Myeloid Leukemia to be precise.
Last year Alex underwent aggressive treatment to overcome a different type of cancer -- treatment that was initially thought to be successful as that cancer disappeared. However, the doctors suspect that last year's treatment may have led to the leukemia that's attacking Alex now. I got an update from my friend today, and things are not looking great. Alex is on life support and her heart is showing signs of weakness.
Alex's family is putting out a call for bone marrow donors. CBC Radio interviewed Alex's father (listen here) and local jeweler Hilary Druxman, a personal friend of the family, is pitching in as well with an email campaign to their customers. Hilary Druxman is no stranger to philanthropy and often sells special pieces to raise money for one cause or another, but they're not selling anything here. They are simply asking people to sign up for the One Match program.
|Alex Blake (Source: Hilary Druxman)|
One Match is Canadian Blood Services' bone marrow transplant registry. Bone marrow is what is needed to produce stem cells to treat leukemia. I signed up for One Match myself a couple of years ago, and although I completely dread the thought of somebody drilling into my bones and extracting my bone marrow, it's not supposed to be as bad as it sounds, and I when I thought about the pros and cons there was really no other decision to be made.
As well, the chances of matching somebody are really quite low because, unlike blood transfusions, the matching criteria for bone marrow is very specific. Most people who sign up will never get the tap on the shoulder to donate (and even if you do you can decline -- you'll just have to live in shame forever.) But the rarity of a perfect match is also what makes it so important that as many people as possible sign up, so that people who really need a transplant like Alex have a better chance of getting it.
I apologize for the depressing post, but the fact of the matter is that there is more to life than parkades and fire halls. I encourage you to at least have a look at the One Match web site - www.onematch.ca - and think about it.