'It's inspiring': Willing bone marrow donors break record in Regina in hopes of helping young boy
The community of Regina isn't afraid to get swabbed.
Residents between the age of 17 and 35 swarmed the donor drive at the Cooperators Centre on Saturday in hopes of helping local eight-year-old Vonn Chorneyko who has a rare blood disease and is need of a bone marrow transplant.
Two weeks ago, his family found out there wasn't a match for him available.
Vonn's mother Ashley Chorneyko formed FAv Foundation two years ago when he was diagnosed with Fanconi anemia. The organization mobilized this week to find a match through sheer numbers.
Between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., 2,925 people stopped by to swab their cheek, breaking the national record of 1,100 at at One Match drive.
"It just means the world to my family and I," Chorneyko said. "Everyone rallying around this one small child with this rare disease and everyone just wants to help out."
"We are just speechless."
FAv Foundation's goal was to get 1,000 people tested, while Chorneyko's personal goal was 2,000.
Tasha Pelletier was one of the many people who showed up to get swabbed.
"It's actually really inspiring, seeing a group of people that don't know this child at all," Pelletier said. "It gives me hope, I guess, that there's people who really care and want to help others. We don't see that much in society so being here it's really inspiring that there's good in the world."
Regina Pats forward Tanner Sidaway and his teammates were eager to help.
"Knowing that he was a little boy and he's got his whole life ahead of him. I have the power to do something here and I really want to do something," Sidaway said.
Hope for others in need
Members of the Regina Police Department, the Regina Fire Department and the Canadian Armed Forces also came out to support the young boy's cause.
"Some of our members were kind of disappointed by the age limits because they want to do it also," Fire Capt. Greg Kapell said. "We think that it's a great cause."
Those who did take the test could be used as a donor for anyone on the waitlist worldwide if they aren't a match for Chorneyko.
Once a match is confirmed through a blood test, bone marrow can be collected out of the hip through day surgery, or through a needle in the arm, which is similar to the process of donating blood but lasts up to six hours.
In Vonn's case, he requires stem cells taken from the hipbone to ensure his immune system can handle the transplant.
If you didn't make it to the donor drive, you can visit Canadian Blood Services on Broad Street and ask to join the registry or go online to onematch.ca to order your own swab kit which will be delivered to your door for free.