Donors

a_simple_act

Danny Ho didn’t set out to be a role model when he registered as a potential donor with Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network in 2011. For the young Ontario native, it was simply an act of brotherly love.

“I thought if anything were to happen to one of my siblings I would hope that I or someone else would be able to help them,” says Danny, 26. “And I hoped I might be able to help somebody else.”

Not long after learning about the need for stem cell donation through a news report, Danny was approached by a OneMatch volunteer at a swabbing event at his local shopping mall.

“I thought it was a great opportunity to sign up,” he says.

While he left feeling positive about his decision to register, he had no idea his seemingly small act that day would ultimately save someone’s life — and impact his own life forever in the process.

“After I swabbed my cheeks, I definitely felt like it was a good thing,” he notes. “But I’ve heard stories that matching to a person would be pretty slim and that sometimes people on the registry never get a call.”

That wasn’t the case for Danny. Just two months later, he got the call. He was a match for a patient in need.

“When I received that call I was really shocked. Words couldn’t describe how I felt at the time. I had a full range of emotions: nervousness because I got selected, but also excitement that I actually got picked.”

Danny didn’t hesitate to move ahead with the donation. Following blood testing to confirm his viability as a donor, he found himself at Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital with needles in both arms, soccer on the TV, a cozy blanket wrapped around his legs and an attentive nurse by his side.

While Danny initially intended to keep the experience fairly private, he agreed to share his story publicly when he was approached by the OtherHalf – Chinese Stem Cell Initiative. OtherHalf is a volunteer organization that aims to increase stem cell donor registration within the Chinese-Canadian community.

“I had the honour of becoming their spokesperson,” says Danny. “It gave me an opportunity to share my story and bring some awareness to the community and let them know that I’m a normal human being, too. If [I could do] something like this, it could be done by everyone else.”

Danny attended numerous swabbing events last year to share his story and encouraged other young, Chinese males to register, too. Young males (17 to 35 years old) are considered “optimal donors” and are most encouraged to register with OneMatch, particularly those from ethnically diverse backgrounds. Stem cells from this donor group have been found to produce the best results for patients in need.

Interviewed by local media, his story has stretched far and wide and continues to reach new ears — thanks to his very proud mom.

“My parents felt honoured by what I did,” says Danny. “My mom’s been bragging everywhere. She took the newspaper clippings back to work to show people.”

To register as a potential stem cell donor, visit onematch.ca

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