As both a pediatrician and medical director of the non-profit organization South Asians 4 Life (SA4L), Dr. Prateek Lala knows that patients in need of a lifesaving stem cell transplant need more than just the right treatment — they also need community support and education while on their road to recovery.

Dr. Lala is helping ensure others in Canada’s South Asian community who travel that same road in the future have an easier trek.

“Engaged and educated youth are the real cure for those in need of stem cell transplants today, and in the future,” says Dr. Lala. “This is why at SA4L we continue to raise awareness about stem cell donation in any way we can. At swabbing events and through media interviews, corporate meetings, or school assemblies — we want people to understand how they can help save a life.”

SA4L was founded in 2009 in honour of the personal plight of Toronto’s Dr. Abhijit Guha, a neurosurgeon and cancer researcher who succumbed to his own battle with cancer in 2011. The community organization continues Dr. Guha’s legacy by working with Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network to recruit optimal donors, and by educating people of all backgrounds on the importance of stem cell donation.

“I continue to be inspired by Dr. Guha, who worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the need for optimal stem cell donors in the South Asian community,” says Dr. Lala. “Dr. Guha did all that while fighting his own battle with cancer. He is the reason South Asians 4 Life got started.”

As of April 2014, approximately 12,300 OneMatch registrants have identified themselves as South Asians which translates into approximately 3.5 per cent all registrants. As a OneMatch recruitment group, South Asians 4 Life have played an important role in educating the community and  increasing the number of registrants on OneMatch.