#Match4Meena calls on Asian community to join the Anthony Nolan register….reports Asian Lite News
The mother of two five-year-old twins desperately needs a stem cell transplant to treat her acute myeloid leukemia, a rare form of blood cancer. Meena Kumari-Sharma and her family are campaigning to raise awareness of the need to recruit more donors to the Anthony Nolan stem cell register.
Meena, 41, is an active mother who enjoys outdoor activities with her children. She describes herself as positive spirit with a keen passion for art and oil painting. Meena is also appealing to the Asian community to join the stem cell register. Given her Indian heritage, Meena’s donor will most likely be found in the Asian community, but her family are urging all who can, to sign up.
Meena was first diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in March. She initially responded well to chemotherapy but, unfortunately, a week later she received devastating news: Her cancer had returned as acute myeloid leukemia. Meena and her family were told by doctors that she would need a stem cell transplant: cells from a healthy person, with the same tissue type, to replace and repair her own damaged cells.
Meena, mum to five-year-old twins Mia and Krish, said, “I was devastated by the news that my condition had deteriorated and immediately worried for my twins. I just want to get better so that I can watch them grow up.”
Meena has two siblings who were tested as potential donors, however were not suitable matches. Blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan sprang into action, and is now actively searching the international stem cell registries for a matching donor.
Meena is very concerned about the shortage of people of Asian heritage on the stem cell donor register. Her British-Indian (Punjabi) background makes the search more challenging. She is sending out a plea for donors from around the world, especially people from Asian backgrounds to sign up to Anthony Nolan’s register to give hope to families like hers in the future.
Meena said, “To find out there is a shortage of potential donors from my background is astounding. To try to help improve the situation for other people who find themselves in my situation, I would like to encourage families to find out more about stem cell donation, by engaging with local communities and their networks to recruit more people to Anthony Nolan register.”
Meena and her family would like to raise awareness of the challenge finding donor matches for people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. Patients from these backgrounds are less likely to find a matching stem cell donor. Currently, only 69% of transplant recipients receive the best match, and this drops dramatically to around 20% (one in five of transplant recipients) if you’re from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background.
Meena has launched a worldwide appeal via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #Match4Meena in a bid to encourage more people from all of backgrounds to consider joining the stem cell register.
‘We are doing everything we can to support Meena and her family in their search for a lifesaving stem cell donor,” said Rebecca Sedgwick, National Recruitment Manger at Anthony Nolan.
“Every day five people will start their search for a matching stranger who might save their life. Every single person who joins the Anthony Nolan register has the potential to help save someone like Meena. We urgently need more people aged 16-30, and from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, to sign up and give hope.
“We are also appealing for more men to join the register. Young men provide more than 55% of all stem cell donations but currently make up just 18% of the Anthony Nolan register; if we can encourage more young men to consider joining, we will be able to save even more lives.”
To find out more about joining the Anthony Nolan register, or to find out more about the different ways you can support, visit anthonynolan.org/join
Anthony Nolan saves the lives of people with blood cancer. The charity uses its register to match potential stem cell donors to blood cancer and blood disorder patients in need of stem cell transplants. It also carries out pioneering research to increase stem cell transplant success, and supports patients through their transplant journeys. Every day Anthony Nolan gives three people a second chance at life. Find out more at www.anthonynolan.org
STEM CELL TRANSPLANT
If a patient has a condition that affects their bone marrow or blood, then a stem cell transplant may be their best chance of survival. Doctors will give new, healthy stem cells to the patient via their bloodstream, where they begin to grow and create healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
- About 2,000 people in the UK need a stem cell transplant from a stranger every year
- 90% of donors donate through PBSC (peripheral blood stem cell collection). This is a simple, outpatient procedure similar to giving blood
- We need more young men to sign up, as they are most likely to be chosen to donate but make up just 18% of the register
- We need more people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to sign up. Only 60% of transplant recipients receive the best match. This drops dramatically to around 20% (one in five of transplant recipients) if you’re from a Black, Asian or ethnic minority background.
- Blood cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer in the UK and the third biggest cancer killer. It accounts for 9% of all new cases of cancer diagnosed in the UK.
- It costs £40 to add each new donor to the register so we always need financial support
- To join the Anthony Nolan register, you must be 16-30 and healthy. Anthony Nolan’s world-leading Research Institute has shown younger donors offer better survival rates for patients.