Nurse from Kelowna inspires others to embrace the ‘gift of life’

Kelowna nurse Joel Koette expressed his gratitude towards a stem cell donor from Germany who saved his life. Five years ago, Koette, who was a nursing student at the time, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and knew that a stem cell transplant was his only hope for a cure. Months later, he was informed that he had a match from Germany, and he successfully underwent the transplant. In fall of this year, Koette had the opportunity to meet his donor in person in Germany and express his gratitude. This experience has inspired Koette to pay the gift forward, leading him to organize a stem cell donor registry drive at Kelowna General Hospital to encourage people to register for potential matches and potentially save more lives.

Stem cell registration is simple yet crucial, as over 80 diseases and disorders can be treated with a stem cell transplant. Less than 25% of patients find a perfect match within their biological family, so many rely on unrelated volunteer donors. Having a similar ancestral or ethnic background increases the likelihood of finding a match. Joining the stem cell registry offers hope to patients awaiting a life-saving stem cell donor match. If interested, individuals can join the Canadian Blood Services Stem Cell Registry online.

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