Swab To Save A Life

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 10:09 a.m. February 12, 2014

Chief Bill Blair is leading by example.

A woman in Toronto Police uniform holding a swab kit as another officer looks on
Service members participate in the swab clinic

To spur interest in the importance of becoming a potential lifesaver for individuals suffering with leukemia and other blood disorders, Chief Blair showed how easy it is to join the Canadian Blood Services  OneMatch  Stem Cell and Marrow Network at a clinic held at police headquarters on February 10.

All that is required to join the registry is to submit a swab from the inner cheek that’s used to identify possible stem-cell donors.

The event was organized to honour the fight of seven-year-old Samantha Sirbos, who is suffering from leukemia. A donor was recently found and she is scheduled to have a transplant on Feb. 19.

Her father, Const. Chris Sirbos, is assigned to  13 Division.

Fewer than 30 per cent of patients who need stem-cell transplants find a compatible donor within their own family. The rest rely on those who have volunteered to donate stem cells to anyone in need.

“This event was organized to encourage our members and the public to come down and go through the very simple process of providing a swab, so we can create a larger number of potential donors and identify potential donors to save lives,” Blair said.

“In celebration and recognition of the important difference this can make in the life of Samantha and part of our police family, we are holding this event today so we could identify additional potential donors and help save so many more lives… The more people who participate, the more we will be able to significantly increase the likelihood that lives can be saved.”

A man in Toronto Police uniform speaks in front of a sign advertising the clinic
Chief Bill Blair speaks at the swab clinic held in honour of Samantha Sirbos

A total of 44 new registrants signed up for OneMatch and 34 others got blood-typed, some of whom made appointments, on the spot, to give blood.

Samantha’s uncle, Constable Tommy Sirbos of  54 Division, attended the swab clinic.

“This makes everyone realize that we have something to give even though we might not know it,” he said. “If I had known about this when I was 18, I would have done it. At that time, I had no idea I could possibly have saved a life.”

Stem cells from young male donors between 17 and 35 are optimal for patients because they can have better post-transplant results and fewer chances of complications.

To learn more, or to join the registry, visitonematch.ca

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