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Avast, ye swabs! Campaign seeking cheeky life-saving heroes

Men of diverse ethnic backgrounds between 17 and 35 years old can become heroes this week by participating in the Canadian Blood Services’ fourth annual “Get Swabbed” campaign, registering potential donors to the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network.

“A quick brush of the insides of the cheek using a swab that looks much like an elongated Q-Tip, is all it takes from participants at a Get Swabbed event,” says kinesiology student Luke Butterworth, who is helping organize the event at the University of Windsor. “It takes very little time but the impact can be life-changing.”

There will be three campus locations to register on Wednesday, November 13:

  • 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the lobby of the Toldo Health Education Building;
  • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the St. Denis Centre Multipurpose Room and the lobby of the Human Kinetics Building.

People unable to attend can instead visit to navigate an online interactive comic book where the user, or hero, must rescue a scientist who has a cure for leukemia.

Melba Bedard of the Katelyn Bedard Bone Marrow Association says last year’s campaign registered more than 12,000 potential donors. She says that student leadership is the driving force behind that success.

“Students’ passion and commitment to help patients in need continues to grow the national scope of this campaign and now if they can’t attend the Get Swabbed event they can play the new online game to register,” Bedard says.

Today, 72 percent of registrants on the OneMatch Network are from European backgrounds and only 28 percent represent Canada’s many diverse ethnic groups. Research shows that younger stem cells from male donors can provide better effects on patients post-transplant, and that patients are more likely to find suitable matches with donors of the same ethnic background.

To register as a potential stem cell donor and to find out more about the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, visit or