STR Blood

St. Robert Stem Cell Swabbing Event

St. Robert Stem Cell Swabbing Event



Inspired by the urge to help members of our community, a group of St. Robert students wanted to host an event that could significantly help save someone’s life. Stem cells have become more and more important in the medical field as it replaces damaged stem cells, preventing them from producing harmful blood cells in a person’s bloodstream.

Watch the video below to learn more.

May 30th, 2017

During all three lunches

Outside the cafeteria



Click on each question to learn more

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are immature cells that will develop into any cell in the bloodstream for example: red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets... Blood stem cells are not embryonic stem cells. These stem cells are split into two groups - peripheral stem cells and bone marrow.

What’s the difference between peripheral and bone marrow stem cells?

The main difference is way the stem cells are extracted. There is also not as much stem cells circulating in the bloodstream than in bone marrow.

How are stem cells extracted?

Donors may be either asked to donate peripheral stem cells or bone marrow depending on their matched patient’s needs. Peripheral stem cells are collected from the circulating bloodstream and bone marrow is collected by inserting a needle into the soft center of the hip/pelvic bone. Watch this video for Katrina’s experience with being a bone marrow donor:

Stem cells will not be extracted on school grounds. Only a swab of your cheek will be taken at this event at St. Robert. Stem cells will be extracted if you are matched and contacted by the Canadian Blood Services. Further details should be discussed between you and the organization if you are matched.

How will the Stem Cell Swabbing Event take place?

Interested students will have to sign a parent letter confirming that they are able to get tested and matched with a patient in need. Once returned, the student will have their cheek cells swabbed and tested through Canadian Blood Service to match them with a patient in need of stem cells.

Can I donate right after I get swabbed?

It is very difficult to be matched since a patient needs to find a donor with a very or almost exact immune system for them to be able to receive a stem cell transplant. Therefore, it is very unlikely that someone swabbed will be called back to donate. If you do get matched, it may take weeks or years before you are contacted. Thus, it is important that many people register to get swabbed especially since there are patients that are searching endlessly for a perfect match. You will be contacted by Canadian Blood Services if you are matched with someone and all details will be between you and the clinic.

Who can donate?

If you are 17-35 years of age and are willing to help anyone in dire need, then you can register! Remember, there is no guarantee that you will be matched with someone.

Currently there is a substantial need for young healthy males of ethnically diverse backgrounds since male stem cells decrease the chance of a post-transplant complication. Only 50% of the registry are males and only 28% of donors are ethnically diverse, so male and ethnically diverse people in need of stem cells are having a harder time finding a match.

Nevertheless, everyone of all backgrounds, genders and ages are needed since it is so difficult to find a match! For health and weight requirements, please click here.

How will this benefit others?

Stem cells are increasingly becoming an exciting topic in the medical field due to their ability to repair and regenerate damaged tissues just by replacing it with healthy stem cells. Some people may have to go through many dangerous doses of radiation to kill unhealthy cells or several blood transfusions a week to replace the sick blood. One stem cell transplant can stop all of that.

Stem cells can treat over 80 diseases some of which includes cancer such as leukemia, sickle cell disease, or inherited immune systems and metabolic disorders. Over 80% of patients here in Canada are waiting in line for a stem cell transplant coming from other countries around the world. Many more people could be saved if people right here in Canada donate.

Why should I get swabbed? How will I benefit?

As cheesy as it may sound, you will benefit through the gift of feeling awesome. By complying to be swabbed, you have agreed to venture onto the journey to give life to someone who may no longer have the urge to continue living after all of the blood transfusions and operations that they may have to go through. You’ve taken a big step towards helping people to realize their potential and continue living their life in the most happiest way possible. What gift is better than the gift of life?

Is this safe?

The swabbing event occurring at our school is 100% safe. Only a simple swab of the cheek will be taken, and you will be the one swabbing your cheek. There is no harm in getting your cheek swabbed since the chances of being matched is very low, but many people will be stricken then with feeling of happiness and accomplishment after realizing that they are one step closer to helping someone stay alive.

Can I reject donating later on?

Yes but with the donation of stem cells, we would really appreciate that the donors are to be dedicated to their commitment and not dip out if they have been matched. The chances of a patient getting a match is very difficult and if they do get a match but the donor drops out, that would be devastating. People will most likely be contacted months or years after being swabbed and it is important that they are still willing to donate and save someone’s life.


Have any questions, concerns, or comments? Feel free to let us know.


Have any questions, concerns, or comments? Feel free to let us know.

© 2017 STR Blood