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ST. PETERSBURG, March 22. /TASS/. On Wednesday, a cycling team from the Russian city of St. Petersburg will head off to the Siberian city of Yakutsk as they plan to go on an Arctic cycling trip to find bone marrow donors among Yakutia’s indigenous people, team leader Ilya Gurevich told reporters.
"Today, we will fly to Yakutsk, from there we will take a plane to the town of Chersky, then we will travel north on the ice of the frozen Kolyma River. And after that, we will head east travelling along the south shore of the East Siberian Sea to the Pevek town in Chukotka. We plan to return to St. Petersburg on April 14," said Gurevich, who is one of the VeloPiter cycling club founders.
The travelers intend to meet with local residents and talk them into becoming bone marrow donors to help children suffering from bone cancer. The biobank of the First Pavlov State Medical University of St. Petersburg does not yet have donor materials from many ethnic groups residing in Russia, including Yakutians, while children suffer from cancer all over the country, including Yakutia, where nearly 300 kids are fighting the disease.
Apart from close relatives, people with the same genetic makeup may become bone marrow donors which means donors and patients have to belong to the same ethnic group. "We will explain to the people we’ll meet that it is not dangerous to become a donor and the procedure can be compared to a blood transfusion. We hope to find at least ten potential donors, so that will save someone’s live," Gurevich added.
During the trip, temperatures are expected to be as low as minus 18 degrees Celsius in the daytime and minus 26 degrees Celsius at night. The cyclists plan to sleep in tents or spend nights in geologists’ cabins and huts built in the times when the infamous GULAG forced-labor camps were situated in the Kolyma area, if they happen to come across any. Ilya Gurevich has already gone on more than ten Arctic missions while for other team members this will be the first Arctic trip.