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How Swabbing Your Cheek Can Save A Life

OneMatch is a branch of the Canadian Blood Services that is focused on registering as many eligible candidates for the Stem Cell and Bone Marrow registry as possible. This registry makes it possible to donate stem cells to those in need suffering from diseases like leukemia and other blood cancers and illnesses.

This is all done by collecting a small swab sample of cells from the inside of your cheeks. It only takes a couple minutes to complete! After you have swabbed, the applicators get put in a special envelope which gets sent to the Canadian Blood Services. Once it arrives at the OneMatch lab you will be put into the database as a potential donor!

If you are matched with a person in need, you will be provided with further information on how the donation process works. A representative from the Canadian Blood Services/OneMatch will be able to answer all your questions about it.


How Do I Know If I Am Eligible?

So, you want to save a life? This is the perfect opportunity for you to do just that. OneMatch requires anyone who wishes to register to be between the ages of 17-35. You also have to have OHIP, or other provincial insurance – so if you are a student from Quebec studying in Ontario, you can still donate as long as you have provincial healthcare. This a great cause for university students to get involved with.

The amazing part about OneMatch is that candidates in the eligible age group, who are in good general health and are willing to be a match for someone in need, are welcome to take part in being a donor!

Both men and women are eligible to be donors. There is a stressed need for donors who are male, and/or ethnically diverse. Male donor stem cells decrease the possibility of post-transplant complication. Half of all stem cell donors chosen to help a Canadian patient are male. Only 28% of the current stem cell registry is ethnically diverse and as a result, ethnically diverse patients may have a harder time finding a match.

The more donors that register who are Indigenous, Asian, East-Asian, African-American, Slavic, Hispanic and more, the better chances OneMatch has of pairing sick individuals with someone who is the right match for them. The wonderful part about OneMatch is that they are more than happy to take donations from the LGBTQ+ community! Often the LGBTQ+ community is excluded out of blood drives due to the restrictions put in place for blood donations. This is a separate branch of Blood Services, and those rules do not apply to OneMatch donations! Everyone, no matter their sexual orientation or sexual history, is welcome to be a donor.

Why Should I Be a Donor?

Being a donor for OneMatch can help save the life of someone who is desperately in need of a stem cell transplant. There are over 80 diseases and disorders that can be treated with a stem cell transplant. Hundreds of patients in Canada are waiting for a match, but only 1 in 2 find a match.

Registering to become a stem cell donor means committing to being there when you get the call to Give Life. Not everyone who registers will be matched to a patient and asked to donate, but each registrant provides hope for those waiting. A person could, however, be a match within a few months of registering, a year later or even seven years later.

More than 80 percent of Canadian patients receive stem cells from donors in other countries. Many more people could be helped with a larger base of donors here at home. The more Canadians that register, the quicker a patient can receive the lifesaving help they need!

For me personally, the importance of this did not occur until an immediate family member developed leukemia. Once my family member got sick, I realized how big of a need there was for more people to donate their stem cells. Their illness could have been cured if there was a match on the system. Coming from an ethnic background where there is little to no donors in the registry, it was nonetheless a disappointing reality.

Illness does not discriminate. There are many people of all ages and ethnicities in Canada who suffer with life-threatening diseases that can be cured with a stem cell donation.


Where Can I Get Swabbed?

Laurier’s OneMatch club will be hosting a clinic on Thursday, November 2nd in the Concourse at Wilfrid Laurier University. The event will be taking place between 11:00 AM and 3:30 PM. An information booth will be set up at the event to answer any questions

If you cannot make it to this event, you can order a swab kit from the OneMatch website and it will be sent to your doorstep! It is free, and takes only minutes to do.

You have the opportunity to save someone’s life today! Meredith Grey would be proud.


For general information about Canadian Blood Services and OneMatch, check out this link! For information regarding Laurier’s OneMatch boothing event, check out this Facebook event! 


My name is Joja, and I'm currently in my third year at Wilfrid Laurier University. I am studying Honours History & Medieval/Medievalism Studies.
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