Back in April, MP for Brampton North Ruby Sahota rose in the House of Commons during Statements by Members to raise awareness about Jasnoor “Noor” Deol and his struggle to find a bone marrow match.
In an interview with Can-India, Simrat Deol, sister of 19-year-old Jasnoor talked about why it was imperative more South Asians became registered bone marrow donors. “There is a greater chance of finding a positive match among South Asians because the gene is similar to ethnicity. In Canada out of the 350,000 registered bone marrow donors, 71 per cent are Caucasian, just 4.8 per cent are South Asian. Put simply, more bone marrow donors means there is a greater survival rate for South Asians who will need a bone marrow transplant now and in the future.
Simrat went on to explain how the lives of her family changed on August 1st 2010.
“We had returned from a trip to Calgary, it was my brother’s first trip on an airplane. On his return, he complained of bruising near his spleen area and was sick. We rushed him to the hospital and a blood test revealed he had signs of leukemia. Jasnoor was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when he was rushed to Sick Kids hospitals, all in the span of five hours,” says Simrat.
Jasnoor who at the time was a Grade 8 student was unable to attend school because of all the chemotherapy. He lost hair and weight. His life and that of his close-knit family was changed forever.
In 2013 Jasnoor went into remission, the Deol family kept their fingers crossed, after all doctors wait five years before declaring a person to be cancer-free. In 2014, Jasnoor on a visit to India complained of pain in his leg and hip area. On his return, tests revealed that the cancer was back.
Ever since getting diagnosed, Jasnoor has been in need of a bone marrow transplant but despite all efforts he has been unsuccessful in finding a match. In his case he needs a 100 per cent match, none of his immediate family is a match and so the search is on. While larger numbers donate blood, there are fewer donors of bone marrow and in the South Asian community, that number is terribly low.
This is why the community needs to be educated more about the nobility of donating bone marrow and that there is little or no difference between donating blood or bone marrow.
To raise awareness within the community, the Deol family formed a registered charity called ‘Match for Marrow’, its mission is to create a more diverse bone marrow registry that is accessible to all patients in need worldwide.
India has the second largest population in the world, yet make up just 5 per cent of the current registry. Since the highest chance of finding a bone marrow match is within one’s own ethnicity, it leaves the thousands of patients in need with little hope. The chance of finding a match is only 1 in a million, which makes it even more difficult for these patients. Through awareness and education, it is hoped young adults will eliminate the stigma around becoming a bone marrow donor and will help create a more diverse registry.
So show your support by turning up on July 1st for Match for Marrow’s second annual walk. It starts at Meadowland Park participants will do a two hour walk to Chinguacousy Park. The registration fee for the walk is $50 and all proceeds go towards setting up events to register South Asians. For more information visit www.facebook.com/matchformarrow. – CINEWS