Students encourage Asians in London to save lives of people with blood cancer

Thursday 22nd February 2018 07:42 EST

Over a hundred student volunteers in universities across London are attempting to recruit Londoners this week, especially from the ethnic background such as the Asian community, to beat stem cell crisis and save lives of people with blood cancer.

People from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are currently underrepresented on the stem cell register, meaning that it’s more difficult for patients from these backgrounds to find a donor with a matching tissue type. The campaign this week in London seeks to highlight and celebrate the diversity of London, with a particular focus on recruiting people from ethnic backgrounds.

Anthony Nolan stem cell register, a charity campaign to recruit more young people to become potential lifesavers under the name ‘Marrow’, it currently operates in eight universities across the capital.

At present only 60% of transplant recipients receive the best match, and this drops dramatically to around 20.5% (one in five of transplant recipients) if you're from a Black, Asian or ethnic minority background.

Vithurshanan Karunanithy, 21, joined the register last year after seeing an appeal for Vithiya Alphons on facebook.

Karunanithy said: ‘It may look on the face of it that people from BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) communities don’t care but I don’t think it’s that simple. I don’t think there is as much awareness of stem cell donation

‘It may sound slightly self-centred but I joined since she was from the Tamil community like me, and before this I hadn't really thought about it.’

He added: ‘I feel I should have signed up earlier, however now I'm glad I signed up as I've had the opportunity to be part of KCL Marrow and join in the wonderful work Marrow do. Marrow is so important because it has a significant effect on people around the world. Not many people would have even heard of Anthony Nolan without the help of Marrow!’

Ainesh Singh, 20, also joined the register when approached by a Marrow voluntee. He said: ‘After learning about the work being done by Marrow in saving people’s lives, I decided that getting involved and working alongside other volunteers to recruit donors would be rewarding and worthwhile.’

Namet said: ‘Most young men know that blood cancer is a serious issue, and many are even aware of the charity work being done to help this issue, such as Anthony Nolan. However, I think that most young men are simply not conscious of this issue; as it does not have an immediate impact in their lives, they are not motivated to seek out ways of joining the register.’

He continued: ‘I would say that it is one of the most worthwhile causes to get involved in, as the possibility of saving someone’s life through just a donation of stem cells and having such an impact on someone’s future is amazing. Anthony Nolan gives hope to those afflicted by blood cancer, and to be part of it is incredible.’

Charlotte Cunliffe, Marrow Programme Lead at Anthony Nolan said: ‘It is so important to address inequality on the stem cell register so that we are able to find a match for every person in need of a transplant. London is one of the most vibrant and diverse cities in the world, and provides the perfect opportunity to register a large number of potential donors, from a mix of backgrounds, heritages and communities.”

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