A 19-year-old woman with cancer is having trouble finding a stem cell donor because of her mixed aboriginal and Irish roots. Rosalie Lirette Gilbert was diagnosed on June 29 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia—a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
A search of the blood and bone marrow donor bank in her home province of Quebec found no match for her genetic mix. When her 24-year-old sister Hélisa found out she wasn’t a match either, she issued a public appeal for aboriginal donors on Facebook.
Donor registrations have increased
There were 1.4 million people “who have an aboriginal identity” in 2011, according to government statistics. Of those, 451,795 identified at Metis, that is, of mixed European and indigenous heritage.
Héma Quebec, the body that banks blood and bone marrow, says that subsequent to the appeal, the number of registrations on the donor list has increased, and that is a good thing. Hélisa says she is glad her message is having an impact. She hopes it will help find a donor for her sister and for other people of mixed ancestry.