Call out for students to donate stem cells to help 4-year-old boy
Words by Grace Curtis
The Brighton & Sussex Marrow society has released an urgent appeal to help a little boy in need of a stem cell transplant. Veer is four years old and has a rare blood disorder. In a video posted to the societies Instagram page, Veer’s mother said, “Veer’s need for a matching stem cell donor is now very urgent” and “we are asking you to help us save our four-year-old little boy by registering as a stem cell donor today”. About 2,000 people in the UK need a stem cell transplant from a stranger every year. According to Brighton & Sussex Marrow, 70% of white people find a match but that number drops dramatically for people from minority ethnic backgrounds. “Patients from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds only have a 20% chance of finding a match” and, for Asian patients, the number drops to just 6%. Patients have the best chance of finding a donor from someone with the same ethnicity.
The Badger has spoken to Georgia Shakeshaft, the Co-President of the society, about the importance of this cause. “For a lot of patients, a stem cell transplant is their last chance as all other treatments have been exhausted. So what we do is life and death.” Once you have registered as a donor, you will only be contacted if someone on the waiting list is an exact match. If you are contacted, 9 out of 10 people donate in a simple procedure similar to a blood test. 1 in 10 donors will have to go under general anaesthetic to have their stem cells collected via the bone marrow itself. Georgia wants students to know that the process is very simple for donors and, “a few days of your life”, could give a child, like Veer, his whole life back. Many students are the prime demographic for donation as those under 30-years-old are more likely to be chosen as donors in lifesaving transplants. The society are particularly looking out for more donations from ethnic minorities and men, who are the most likely to be chosen to donate but make up just 18% of the register.
If you are aged 16-30 and in good health, you can sign up to the stem cell register using this link: www.anthonynolan.org/SussexMarrow