It all started while walking to the bus stop one morning four years ago. The air was brisk, and the sun was bright in the sky. After just a few steps, Tom was out of breath and feeling dizzy. He thought it was probably nothing but decided to get checked just to be safe. He visited a walk-in clinic that very same morning.
You never know how or when a life-changing illness will strike.
A week after his blood test, he sat stunned at the phone, receiving the news that he should report to a local emergency room. There they confirmed that Tom had a rare form of blood cancer. Tom was diagnosed with MDS or Myelodysplastic Syndrome — a type of pre-leukemia that disrupts the normal production of blood cells. It occurs when your bone marrow fails to produce, slows down, or even stops making your blood cells. It’s a confusing and terrifying disease.
Most patients with MDS will develop anemia and others may also suffer from reduced white blood cells and platelets. In Tom's case all three scenarios presented themselves and his best chance for a cure was to have a stem cell transplant.
Finding a stem cell match is like finding a needle in a haystack or winning the lottery. Every new potential donor in the stem cell registry is an extra ticket towards that jackpot. On any given day, 1,200 Canadians are waiting for a stem cell match and more than 75 per cent will rely on someone they don’t know to save their lives.
“The requirements for finding a match are so precise that fewer than 25 per cent of those in need find a match within their own family,” says Tom. “Unfortunately, my sisters, who had the highest probability of being my compatible donors, did not provide a match.”
Your generous financial support helps ensure that lifesaving products are always there when Canadians need them by supporting blood and stem cell donor recruitment. Your gifts help support programs that educate and recruit young, healthy donors from diverse backgrounds to the adult stem cell registry and invite new moms to donate their babies’ cord blood.
With your help, Canadian Blood Services matches volunteer donors to patients who require stem cell transplants, ensures donors are eligible to donate, and coordinates the process of getting stem cells to those who need them. With the current odds, only half of the hundreds of Canadians waiting for a stem-cell transplant will be able to find their lifesaving match.
Your financial donation plays a substantial role in helping us ensure every need is matched.
After an extensive search a match was found and today Tom is a proud MDS survivor.
Tom recognizes the role Canadian Blood Services played in helping save his life. This is why he makes a monthly financial donation to Canada’s lifeline. “While waiting to find my compatible donor for a stem cell transplant, I naturally started to wonder if I was going to survive. Negativity occasionally crept in, but it was the support from loved ones, family and friends that kept my spirits up on my darkest days. I knew that if I survived, I would do something to help others,” he says.
When you make your financial donation to Canadian Blood Services, you play an integral role in helping connect patients like Tom with the lifesaving products and services they need most.
“We all have to embrace the spirit of charity - whether it be of your time or funds. Canadian Blood Services is dear to my heart particularly because they helped save my life. As a blood cancer survivor, I have had over 30 transfusions and received a lifesaving stem cell transplant...I can never repay that gift but I can encourage others to give and help spread awareness We all have the power to make a difference.”
Tom’s story is one about donors, recipients and all the people, like you, that brought them together. It’s about the power of connections that keep Canadians living. It's about the something we each can do today, knowing that because of us, someone else can wake up healthy tomorrow. Trusting that we can all be part of the connection that keeps the story going.