by Michaela GarstinSpecial to the Langley Advance
Students at Trinity Western University are rallying to help save the life of a fellow classmate who has been diagnosed with leukemia.
Langley resident Jay Lutz was set to begin a degree in communications in September. But he had to postpone his studies when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia just days before classes began.
His doctor recommended a stem cell transplant, but he hasn’t been able to find a donor match yet.
This is where Keenan Klassen, a biology student at TWU, stepped in.
After hearing Lutz’s story, he contacted Canadian Blood Services to host a stem cell drive in honour of Lutz at the university.
Potential donors can attend the drive in TWU’s cafeteria between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 26 to register for the donor database and have their cheek swabbed.
“We’re raising awareness for general stem cell donations, and integrating that with Jay’s story,” said Klassen, who lead’s university’s biology club.
Although Klassen doesn’t know Jay personally, he was touched when he heard about the obstacles he is facing.
Unfortunately, Jay didn’t have a match within his family where there is typically a better chance of finding a donor.
His classmates are now hoping someone at TWU will be able to help.
While a match for Jay might not necessarily be found at the university, each donor’s genetic profile will be put into a national database.
The more donors who take part, the better chance there is to find a match for Jay and other people in need, Klassen said.
“It’s an easy way to save someone’s life,” he added.
It only takes 15 minutes for donors to complete the cheek swab, including receiving information on stem cell collection.
If there is a match, the procedure has limited invasiveness and the donor can go home from the hospital the same day.
Based on criteria for stem cell donations, donors should be between 17 and 35 years old, and male donors are particularly useful.