Last week Pauline Latham attended an event in Parliament which was to raise awareness of stem cell donations, especially for those from Asian or other ethnic minority backgrounds, who can find it particularly difficult to find matches.
Stem cell donation is a method by which to treat Leukaemia. One case study which was highlighted at the event was that of Kaiya (aged 5) and Rajie (aged 11) have both been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL). Despite both being treated with chemotherapy since their diagnosis, their best chance of survival is a blood stem cell donation from a matching donor. However, this search is made more difficult due to their South Asian heritage; they are three times less likely to find a perfect match.
According to the Anthony Nolan charity, currently, donors from Asian or other ethnic minority backgrounds make up just 16 percent of the register and patients only have a 20.5 percent chance of finding the best possible donor match. This is compared to 69 percent for people with white, European heritage.
The ‘Cure Kaiya’ and ‘Match for Rajie’ campaigns have already had a great response and hundreds of individuals have registered to join the stem cell registry across the UK. However, more still needs to be done to encourage more people from Asian backgrounds to become registered donors to help people like Kaiya and Rajie find a match and have the best possible chance at survival.
Individuals can register to become donors with the Anthony Nolan charity if they are aged 16-30 and more information about how to do this can be found on their website: www.anthonynolan.org. They can also register with the DKMS charity if they are aged 17-55 and more information can be found at: www.dkms.org.uk/en.