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A Fort McKay family's Canada-wide search for stem cells

Last Updated Feb 22, 2021 at 12:55 pm MST

Photo courtesy of the Ameilia's Warriors GoFundMe
Summary

Calling all donors, Ameilia Powder of Fort McKay is searching for a stem cell donor

Ameilia Powder was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia last March, and is now looking for a stem cell donation.

FORT MCMURRAY (660 NEWS) — Ameilia Powder is a 10-year-old member of Fort McKay First Nations who needs your help. Diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in March of 2020, Powder received care at Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Hospital. After undergoing five months of care and five rounds of chemotherapy, she was discharged from the hospital in August.

Unfortunately in January of this year doctors found that Powder’s cancer is back. This time she’s in need of a bone marrow transplant to save her life. The family has launched a campaign looking for a stem cell donor, which she needs so she can receive her transplant. Canadian Blood Services describes stem cells as cells found in bone marrow, circulating blood, and umbilical cord blood that aren’t fully developed, and can become red or white blood cells, as well as platelets.

 

AUDIO: 660’s Devon Banfield speaks with Jamie Harpe and Amanda Main, the women behind the Ameilia’s Warriors campaign

Harpe says that it has been hard to find a donor because of the pandemic. Public health restrictions mean that setting up an in-person donor drive has been impossible. Because of this, the family says that they’re depending on social media and word of mouth to share her granddaughter’s story and find a donor. Harpe also says that even if you can’t donate stem cells, you can still help. “When people are going through chemotherapy the amount of blood and platelets that they need during treatment. That’s another way that people can help — by donating blood, or donating platelets.”

Powder’s family describes her as a loving, gentle soul, who loves spending time with her younger cousins and playing hockey. A family friend, Amanda Main, has set up a GoFund Me page to help cover the costs associated with Powder’s treatment. Main says that it’s important to look at this as an opportunity to save thousands of lives, not just Ameilia’s. According to Canadian Blood Services, at any given time in Canada there are approximately 1,000 people waiting for stem cell donations.

Canadian Blood Services requires stem cell donors to be between the ages of 17 and 35, in good general health, and free of infectious disease and other health issues. The full list of stipulations can be found on the Canadian Blood Services Website.  A home testing kit can also be ordered from blood.ca