When it comes to stem cell transplants, not all donors are created equal. That’s why Canadian Blood Services works to provide the best donor available — an “optimal donor” — for all patients in need, through the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network.

The international transplant community has defined optimal donors as young males between the ages of 17 and 35. Not only do men tend to have more stem cells, but stem cells from younger male donors result in fewer post-transplant complications and offer patients better outcomes. Given the option, a patient’s doctor will generally prefer a young male donor.

Despite their importance, these donors currently make up just five per cent of Canada’s current stem cell donors.

And because genetic markers used to match donors to patients occur with different frequencies in different ethnic groups, donors from as many ethnic communities as possible are needed to enhance the network. At any given time, there are nearly 1,000 Canadian patients from varied ethnic backgrounds in need of a stem cell donor.