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Joshua Cochrane keeping promise to young friend by helping to host another stem cell drive in Yarmouth

<p>Yarmouth youngster Joshua Cochrane holds a photo of 14-month-old Marlie Curwin, for whom he helped host a stem cell drive in 2016. He's doing it again in 2017.
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<p>Yarmouth youngster Joshua Cochrane holds a photo of 14-month-old Marlie Curwin, for whom he helped host a stem cell drive in 2016. He's doing it again in 2017. <br />

YARMOUTH, N.S. – Promises are made not to be broken. This is why 11-year-old Joshua Cochrane of Yarmouth is helping to host another stem cell drive in Yarmouth. 

The one that took place last year was for his friend Marlie Curwin who had leukemia. The one happening Tuesday, May 9 and Wednesday, May 10 is in honour and memory of the little girl who died in June 2016.

“Joshua has six friends right now who are very sick with cancer. His promise to Marlie is he would never give up trying to find matches for their friends. He is really pushing this drive hard,” says his mother Ann Harrington.

The OneMatch Swab Event by Canadian Blood Services will be held in the gymnasium of NSCC Burridge Campus. The hours on both days are 1-3 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. People taking part in the OneMatch Swab Event must be between the ages of 17 and 35. The process is easy – one simply has to get their cheek swabbed.

The stem cell drive coincides with a Canadian Blood Services blood donor clinic also happening at NSCC on these same two days. People who would like to book an appointment time to donate blood can visit the Canadian Blood Services website to do so, or visit the clinic in Yarmouth. There is also a GiveBlood App that can be downloaded on phones and tablets.

As for the stem cell drive clinic, no appointments are needed, it’s strictly walk in.

When Joshua became involved in an April 2016 stem cell drive event in Yarmouth, it was to try and a match for his 14-month-old friend Marlie of Sackville, N.B., who had acute myeloid leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. Stem cell drives were held all of the Maritimes to try to find a match for the little girl and also for other people also battling similar illnesses. Much awareness was raised.

Joshua had met Marlie at the IWK Health Centre. Joshua, due to his own medical conditions, has spent much of his life traveling to and from the IWK for medical treatment. Last year 167 people took part in the stem cell drive in Yarmouth. This year Joshua is hoping to reach a goal of 200.

To push the drive he has approached the 84th Independent Field Battery, the EHS ambulance bay, he’s visited all floors of the Yarmouth Regional Hospital, shared information with the high school, and has visited other places as well.

Trying to help find matches for people who need them is important to the Yarmouth youth.

Since Marlie lost her battle, Joshua has lost three more friends to cancer, his mother says.

“He doesn't want to lose any more friends.”

5 things to know:

1. Stem cells are immature cells that can become red blood cells (which carry oxygen), white blood cells (which fight infection) or platelets (which help stop bleeding).

2. The OneMatch registry seeks people between 17 and 35 years old.

3. Even with millions of donors on registries worldwide, a perfect stem cell match isn't always available so it’s important for people to participate.

4. People are not charged for the testing or donation process. OneMatch reimburses any expenses incurred as a result of donating stem cells.

5. If you can’t attend a drive in person, you can register to donate stem cells at blood.ca/stem-calls. You can receive a kit and send back a swab sample.

(Source: Canadian Blood Services)

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