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Second bone marrow testing clinic set up today in Riverside South

Hillary McKibbin, 6, has been diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia and is searching for a bone marrow match.

A simple swab of your cheek could lead to you saving a life, this afternoon, at a Riverside South high school.

Hillary McKibbin, 6, has been diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia. The rare, fatal blood disorder means her bone marrow does not produce enough red cells, white cells, and platelets. Hillary has to undergo regular blood transfusions to keep her alive.

"It's very bizarre and surreal, unfortunately," said Kelly McKibbin, Hillary's mother.

"Life is kind of flipped on its end."

Aplastic Anemia affects approximately one in one million people per year. Curing the disease requires a perfect bone marrow match.

Finding a donor match begins with a test that involves a swab of the cheek. Canadian Blood Services will be at St. Francis Xavier High School, collecting cheek swabs from 3 until 6 p.m., Thursday. 

Testing is aimed at those between the age of 17 and 35. 

"What people need to realize is how easy it is," said McKibbin. "If you can't make it out...they send you a package in the mail, you swab the inside of your cheek, and you mail it back in."

McKibbin urges people to get tested, not just for her daughter but for others, as well. Because 70 per cent of the registry is Caucasian, people of other ethnicities -- particularly those from Indigenous communities -- have a difficult time finding a match.

McKibbin says once you're swabbed and added to the bone marrow donor registry, the odds of actually being called to donate are one in 900.

1400 donors showed up to the last swab event. 700 had to be turned away because of a shortage of kits.

This time, the St. Francis Xavier High School will have 1200 kits on hand for testing. 

Canadian Blood Services will be collecting cheek swabs from 3 until 6 p.m., Thursday.

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