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''Swabathon'' to help save Mississauga girl

Nine-year-old is one of hundreds of Canadians looking for a bone marrow match

A "swabathon" is being held Sunday in Vaughan - a way to get more people to sign up as bone marrow donors and perhaps find a match for a young Mississauga girl who has a rare form a leukemia.

Nine-year-old Isabella Mannella's form of the disease (acute lymphoblastic leukemia or ALL) has only been seen in about 30 other people.

The event is being organized with the help of the Canadian Blood Services.

People will undergo an initial health assessment, then they'll be swabbed for cheek cells, spokesperson John Bromley tells Newstalk 1010.

"Those cheek cells are sent to a lab in Ottawa," he says, where they are tested to see if they're a match to Mannella or to the 700 or so other Canadians in need of a transplant.

While Bromley says the chance of finding a match for Mannella Sunday are "very slim" it's still a worthy event, because everyone who attends will be registered with One Match. 

"One Match belongs to an international bone marrow organization called Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide," explains Bromley. "That's a database with over 20-million potential stem cell donors on it."  

Sunday's event will be an opportunity to add more people to the list and increase the chances of Mannella and the hundreds of other Canadians to find a match.

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