Stem cell info session held in support of former Guelph boy

GUELPH -- When Sajeed Hussain did not show up for school that Thursday in April, Theresa Darroch didn't think too much of it.

The popular and intelligent student in Darroch's Grade 4 class at Priory Park public school, who had fully participated in gym class just a day earlier, was preparing for a move to Ottawa with his family at the end of the week.

It wasn't until the next day Darroch learned from another student the 10-year-old was in a Toronto hospital after being diagnosed with leukemia.

"It just completely came out of left field," Darroch recalled Saturday. "It was just awful."

Darroch's students have not seen their friend in person since then, as Sajeed's family did move to Ottawa where his father had a new job. But they have kept in touch via Skype, and at Easter Darroch traveled to Ottawa to visit her former student and deliver gifts from students and faculty.

On Saturday, those attending a bone marrow information session organized in Sajeed's honor watched a video, made by the boy's former classmates, wishing him well.

Sajeed has been in and out of hospital in Ottawa and is now one of nearly 1,000 Canadians waiting for a stem cell match.

The Bangladesh Association of Guelph organized the session with Canadian Blood Services in hopes a match for Sajeed could be found, but the purpose soon grew.

"We wanted to help Sajeed, but eventually we thought we could help the wider community because there are more then 900 Canadians who are waiting for a match," said Riadul Mannan, director of communications for the association.

Mannan recalls, too, learning of the boy's illness and being shocked.

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Stem cell info session held in support of former Guelph boy

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