OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network

Facebook has proven life-altering for Mike Hogman of Nanaimo and Huw Williams of Ottawa. The two men met for the first time this spring at Toronto’s Pearson Airport—more than two years after Mike’s chance visit to the Facebook page of Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network and more than a year after he donated the bone marrow which saved Huw’s life.

Huw was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) in 2008. His only hope for survival was a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor since no one in Huw’s family was a match.

After a friend introduced Mike to the OneMatch Facebook page, Mike registered to be a potential donor. Only months later, on December 17, 2009, Huw received Mike’s bone marrow. One year after Huw’s transplant, they both agreed to share contact information, and have communicated for a few months through Facebook and by telephone.

When Mike stepped into the arrivals gate at Pearson Airport, Huw—accompanied by his father, sister and her family—was there to greet him with a hug and a smile. Reporters surrounding the men were touched when they heard Huw’s sister say to Mike, “Thank you for saving my brother’s life.”

“It is amazing that a simple click on and an easy cheek swab starts the process to save a life,” says Huw. “My family and I are so grateful to Mike and to all who sign up.”

“Signing up to and then donating was as easy as giving blood,” says Mike Hogman. “I was thrilled to know my one simple act saved a life and made a difference to another family.”

At 23 years of age, Mike represents OneMatch’s optimal donor (the 17-25 age demographic). “Younger stem cells from male donors are potentially offering patients a better post-transplant outcome because they provide a strong graft to the patient’s new bone marrow,” says Sue Smith, Executive Director, Stem Cells at Canadian Blood Services.

“Through social media vehicles, like Facebook, OneMatch is able to reach a group of potential registrants who use these tools as their primary source of communication and information. There is great value in this—for us and patients too—knowing that online there are people who can save lives.”