WolfPack teams knock stem cell clinic out of the park

Baseball men and basketball women join forces to buff up donors list

A successful team effort by WolfPack athletes and TRU philosophy students added 248 potential stem cell donors to the Canadian Blood Services OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network program.

The registry clinic ran on March 12 at the Tournament Capital Centre, where WolfPack baseball players and philosophy students volunteered to help people through the registration and mouth-swabbing process required to be entered into OneMatch as a potential stem cell donor.

Basketball captain Jorri Duxbury was among those swabbed and registered to be a potential stem cell donor. (Tayla Scott/The Omega)

Basketball captain Jorri Duxbury was among those swabbed and registered to be a potential stem cell donor. (Tayla Scott/The Omega)

Alex Reid, pitcher for the baseball team, wanted to organize a registry clinic in hopes of finding a stem cell match for his sister Karlee Waight.

“They need to replace her immune system to hopefully help the fight cancer, along with the chemo, so that was my original boost to do it,” Reid said.

But it turned into much more for Reid when he realized how many people he could help.

Even though there are 350,000 registered potential donors in Canada, there are still approximately 1,000 Canadians waiting for a match, said MaryLynn Pride, the patient and transplant liaison specialist with Canadian Blood Services OneMatch program.

“Stem cell transplantation in actuality can be a source of treatment for upwards of 80 diseases,” Pride said. “It’s really an opportunity to give back to the global community because we are linked internationally.”

“The probability is, if they’re even asked to donate, they would only be asked to donate once. The likelihood of them matching more than one patient in their lifetime is very rare,” Pride said.

Once matched, a donor’s stem cells can be removed either surgically from bone marrow or non-surgically from blood, depending on the patient’s needs.

While Reid was looking into setting up a registry clinic at TRU, Michelle Bos and Angela Clarke of the WolfPack women’s basketball team were looking to do the same thing for a philosophy class project. It was the perfect opportunity for them to join forces as organizers.

Baseball team captain Lucais Simpson got swabbed and volunteered alongside his teammates. (Tayla Scott/The Omega)

Baseball team captain Lucais Simpson got swabbed and volunteered alongside his teammates. (Tayla Scott/The Omega)

The clinic was advertised on CBC radio, around the TRU campus, on social media and by word of mouth, which brought in 248 people from the campus and the community to register.

Waight was especially proud of her brother’s effort.

“This is more than I could have asked for. Someone in this room is going to help save someone else’s life,” Waight said. “I guess all the WolfPack has come out so to them, thank you. Just thank you to everybody.”

Among the registrants were WolfPack volleyball’s middle blocker Nic Balazs and team captain Matt Krueger, who encouraged all his teammates to register.

“I just kind of pictured what would happen if my little sister had something like this happen to her and I just couldn’t even imagine it,” Balazs said. “There’s people from different teams out it’s really good to see everybody else pulling together to help the baseball team and help Alex.”

Reid, who will return to TRU as a pitching coach next season, was thrilled to surpass his goal of 100 registrants and is strongly considering running the registry clinic again next year.

“It was so incredible to feel the support from the community, the school and the athletic department,” Reid said. “I would love to thank every single one of them.”