November 26, 2008

People have been asking me about the registration process.

Registration is free in Quebec. You must be 18-50 to register, but you can donate up until you are 60.

It's just a blood sample to register in Quebec, but you should be informed about the methods of donation, should you ever be one of the select group to match another person. To find out more:

Go to
> Learn More
> "Learn" or "Spread the Word"

The OneMatch site is much more informative than the current Hema-Quebec website.

If you are a busy person, set aside between 15-30 minutes, and read information on the site. Use a timer so you get back to the other things you need to do.

How to register in Quebec:

1. Go to

> Stem Cells menu
> Stem Cells Donor Registry
> How To Join

You can also request a consent form by phone (514-832-5000 ext. 279).

2. Read, fill in the consent form and send it back. (5 to 10 minutes)

Do NOT self-select yourself out if you answer no or yes to a question. Some questions are asked simply for more follow-up.

Send it back by fax (514-832-0266) or email (info AT If you requested a consent kit, send it back in the postage paid envelope.

3. A representative will call, and set up your appointment.

It is at your convenience, and you get to choose if you provide your sample at a nearby blood drive or go to their offices. If you don't hear from them in ten days, call them back!

4. At your appointment, provide a small sample of blood for typing.

It will take much less blood and less time than a regular blood donation. You're done!

It takes about fifteen working days to get HLA-typed. Keep your address information up to date whenever you move so you can be found if you are ever needed.

You could be contacted in two months, ten years, maybe never. But if you match someone, you may be able to save someone's life by donating 2 to 5% of the stems cells in your circulating blood or bone marrow.

How To Register As A Donor In Canada
How To Register Online As A Donor In The United States

Stem Cell Awareness - Why is it important to everyone?
Stem Cell Awareness and the Black community
By the Numbers: Still a State of Emergency

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November 18, 2008

It's doubtless that more people know about stem cell donation now and also learned that the most likely match is someone of the same or a similar ethnicity. But many people still aren't aware. It's just that these things take time.

Many people also think that hundreds and even thousands came forward in the Canadian black community to register when they heard of Emru's need and that of others. Before you read onward I want you to figure out a realistic number of people who came forward in Quebec and Canada in the Black community since February 1 and write it down on a piece of paper. Now keep reading.

First some population statistics:

Black people in Canada
approximately 800 000

Black people in Quebec alone
approximately 200 000

Black people in the greater Toronto area alone
approximately 345 000

This data was received on November 12th, 2008, directly from OneMatch and Hema Quebec. Here are the numbers from when we started this appeal, February 2008, and at the end of October 2008.

NOTE: I overreported this number as being 1633 black potential donors in Canada as of March 31, and I am taking steps to address this. It would help if OneMatch or Hema Quebec made the simple effort to publish more solid numbers on their website.

Black people who should be on the Canadian registry to create high rate of matching
approximately 80 000

Black registrants in Canada on Feb 1, 2008

Black registrants in Canada in October 2008

New black registrants in Canada between February and October

Black registrants in Quebec on Feb 1
Less than 10

New black registrants in Quebec between February and October

Tell me what you really think, as long as it's constructive. Because if you sincerely believe the statement that nothing can be done to rectify this you are right and part of the problem. If you don't believe it, you are right and can make a real change.

The people who registered, or tried and found out they were ineligible have my eternal gratitude. Those who spread the word are equally important. You have my thanks.

But we must consider how we are going to operate in the long term... and keep going.

Create your own note and cut and paste this information if you want others to know. You can also blog about it or discuss it face-to-face with someone you know.

How To Register As A Donor In Quebec
How To Register As A Donor In Canada
How To Register Online As A Donor In The United States

Stem Cell Awareness - Why is it important to everyone?
Stem Cell Awareness and the Black community

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October 20, 2008

Important message from Laurent Paul Ménard, director of external communications from Hema-Quebec:

Hema-Québec web site will go through a major redesign process and we expect to be online with a new version in early spring 2009.

We are currently addressing and auditing existing contents and gathering information. Your suggestions will be gladly welcomed.

Please send your comments/suggestions at : Laurent-Paul.Menard AT


Laurent Paul Ménard
Directeur des communications externes,

Please take a look at the Hema-Quebec website. By the end of your search for information, did you feel any of these four messages came across clearly?

- Over 70% of people will not find a family match and will need a stranger
- Donation is not risky, extremely painful or dangerous, and there are two methods of donation
- You don't need to donate stem cells in your marrow or circulating blood to register. It is just a blood sample
- It is difficult to find a match and many people do not find a match, moreso if they are from an underrepresented ethnicity, because their likely match is usually of the same or similar ethnicity

Here are some more suggestions for what you could address in your email feedback. Remember to be polite!

-Did you find information that let you know what to expect during the registration process?
-Could you easily find the form you needed to register as a potential donor?
-Did you find information that let you understand the donation process?


- Try to find out which blood collection drives include a table for information on the stem cell registry.

- Click and compare: Go to or and look at their frequently asked questions. Then look at and look at their stem cell registry FAQ. Which one is clearer? You can also try or

- Do you still need to know why it is important to donate blood, or why people need a transplant after your website visit? Tell HQ what you could not find, and where you would have looked.

All information you provide on any aspect of the entire website will be taken into consideration - as long as you do it by the end of the month!

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June 30, 2008

For people who only know Emru through this blog, he and I live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Today, another Quebec native, Diane Hébert, passed away. She was the first recipient in the province of both a heart and lung transplant. I remember in my early teens seeing her face on the television and in the papers. She made news with her story, and went on lead a normal life, write an autobiography, Second Chance, set up a foundation promoting organ and tissue donation that also supports patients awaiting donation (including those awaiting bone marrow), and live for 23 more years, leaving this world at 51.

I panicked last month when I noticed my organ donor sticker on the back of my Medicare card had worn down so it was hardly readable. My new sticker arrived in the mail last week with my new card, to my relief.

Her efforts made organ donation acceptable in Canada, and very much so in Quebec, which has the highest number of organ donors per capita. People became aware that lives could be changed for the better with their gift.

While bone marrow and stem cell donations are only provided by living donors and one must consent to be added to a different registry, her efforts had an impact on how people feel about helping one another in this manner and made them realize how meaningful it is to give someone a better chance of survival even in the direst of circumstances.

In the title, I include Diane Hébert's transplantation year as her "birth date." It marks the beginning of her second chance at life.

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