One Small Victory

Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, was a good day for Elena Ruggero-Gallucci. A Canadian Blood Services OneMatch stem cell clinic had been held in her honour that afternoon at Al Palladini Community Centre in Vaughan, and it was the biggest donor turnout that OneMatch’s Vaughan district had ever seen.

A Vaughan resident and former elementary school teacher diagnosed with leukemia in 2002, Ruggero-Gallucci was unfortunately unable to make it to the event, but is thrilled by the news of the positive outcome.

“We had 166 people who actually fulfilled the category of being between the ages of 17 and 35 and who were able to swab their mouths to become donors,” says Ruggero-Gallucci. “And now I’m getting so many calls saying there are a lot more clinics being set up across Vaughan now. Maybe this spurred something. I’m hoping!”

Since her diagnosis, Ruggero-Gallucci, a past recipient of the City of Vaughan Civic Hero Award, has spent her time and energy helping to raise awareness about the bone marrow needs of others, supporting fundraising efforts for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and other initiatives.

Stem cell transplants are a standard therapy in the treatment of about 80 diseases and disorders, including certain cancers and bone marrow deficiencies. According to OneMatch, 75 per cent of those in need of a stem cell transplant can’t find a match among their family members.

“It’s so amazing that all those volunteers came out, that people attended in droves,” says Ruggero-Gallucci. “I’m so happy at the turnout, and I hope this event inspires more people between the ages of 17 and 35 to step up and become a donor.”

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Amanda Storey

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