A Manitoba family has begun a desperate search across Canada for a stem cell donor for their baby boy, who has a type of leukemia unresponsive to chemotherapy.
The match is particularly difficult to find because 13-month-old Tegveer Minhas has an Indian background, which means a successful donor will almost certainly need to come from the Indian community.
The child’s parents have started looking for a donor through the Sikh Society of Manitoba, and they plan to host events for potential donors in Toronto and Calgary.
Tegveer’s father says the national search is about more than his son -- it’s about compiling more donor information for anyone who may need a similar stem cell transplant in the future.
"We are putting some more diversity, you can say, into the Canadian blood bank database," Sukhbir Minhas told CTV Winnipeg.
The little boy was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in October. Since then, doctors have struggled to administer effective chemotherapy treatment for the child, who has since lost all his hair.
"I don't want to see him bald like the way he is right now," Minhas said.
Minhas says his son’s only hope for survival is if a donor match is found. The boy’s parents have already determined that they aren’t suitable for the procedure.
Finding a match can be difficult. According to the American Cancer Society, about half of white people looking for a stem cell transplant are able to find a perfect match from unrelated donor. However, for patients of other backgrounds, those chances can drop to about one in 10. In cases where a match is hard to find, several international registries are available.
On Sunday, dozens of Manitobans of similar ancestry gathered to be tested in hopes of finding the right match.
Jagdev Singh Panneo was the first in line to help.
"Bone marrow and stem cells are rare to find, so this is much, much important," he said.
The family is encouraging anyone who think they may be a match to visit the Canadian Blood Services Clinic in Winnipeg at 777 William Avenue.
For more information on stem cell donations and how to register, visit the Canadian Blood Services website.
With files from CTV Winnipeg