Like mother, like son
Heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, bouquets of long-stemmed roses, and giant teddy bears aside, Valentine's Day is about appreciating the people we love. This Valentine's Day, we want to recognize the special bond between Mark and his mother.
Mark's mother is a nurse and has dedicated her life to helping people in need. Mark has fond childhood memories of accompanying his mother on her trips to donate blood. In addition to enjoying the bounty of free cookies and juice in the waiting room, these trips were important to him because watching his mother donate blood time and time again instilled in him a duty to actively help others. Therefore, when Mark became old enough to donate blood, he did so as frequently as possible.
Not too long after Mark started donating blood, he was forced to stop. Mark started having sexual relationships and, as a gay man, this meant he wouldn't be able to continue donating blood. However, this didn't stop Mark from giving what he could to help others in need. Mark researched other ways he could help patients and stumbled across stem cell donation. To Mark's surprise, he discovered that, even though gay men are prevented from donating blood, they can donate stem cells. Knowing that this would be a great way to help people in need, Mark signed up to become a stem cell donor with Canadian Blood Services.
Ten years later, Mark received the call to donate his stem cells. Knowing that he might be the only person who could save this patient's life, he immediately accepted. After screenings, blood tests, and multiple meetings with nurses, the big day finally came. And, just like old times (but with their roles reversed), his mother accompanied him and sat by his side throughout the entire donation process.
Right now, 70% of registered stem cell donors around the world are white, even though roughly 88% of the world's population isn't. Moreover, white people account for around 70% of registered stem cell donors in Canada, but Asians only account for roughly 15% of registered stem cell donors in Canada. Mark is ethnically Filipino and, when asked about how these statistics make him feel, he said the following. "I think about my mom. She's given her entire career as a nurse, and she's donated liters and liters of her own blood to help others. What if, one day the unthinkable happened, and she needed a stem cell transplant? It would be the greatest injustice to see a woman as generous as her be denied a chance at life all because there aren't enough people of color on the registry."
In light of this, Mark urges all able people to become stem cell donors and spread the word to their friends and family. Moreover, Mark says it’s especially important for people of color to know that, if they want the same odds of finding a match as a white person, then they need to work even harder to encourage people in their ethnic communities to become donors.
Mark's mother's generosity inspired her son to become a stem cell donor and, ultimately, save someone’s life. Today is a day to appreciate love in all forms, and we should recognize their story. Like mother, like son.