TWU stem cell drive delivers 248 potential donors

Two hundred and forty-eight people stepped up to save a life at Trinity Western University yesterday.

A biology student named Keenan Klassen organized a public stem cell drive after hearing that another student, Jay Lutz, had withdrawn from TWU because of a cancer diagnosis only days before classes began in September. Lutz has acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and doctors have recommended a stem cell transplant. Unfortunately, Lutz’ sibling isn’t a full match.

The drive at the Langley-based university exceeded all expectations. Organizers had hoped to add 100 potential donors to Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch database. The number is considered a good turnout for TWU’s student population of about 2,000. But interest in helping Lutz find a match was overwhelming. By the end of the drive, 248 people had registered for the database, which involved a detailed questionnaire and four cheek swabs.

Lutz and his family were present throughout the day and seemed overwhelmed by the show of support.

“That is just an amazing thought that people are just so giving and so generous, and that blows me away,” Lutz said to CTV in an interview during the drive.

“We’re doing it as a campus as an expansion of our faith—our desire to show others love,” said Anastasia MacIntosh, a TWU student participant.

Potential donors may be a match for Lutz, but also for many other Canadians who are waiting for lifesaving stem cell donations. If database members are matched with a patient and choose to proceed with a donation, the procedure involves either withdrawing blood through a needle and separating the cells from the blood, or having minor surgery, depending on the kind of donation the patient needs.

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