During my spare time outside work and my fitness activities, I have been volunteering my services working as a trained councillor and ambassador for the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust for just over a year and a half now.
Should you be unfamiliar with what the charity’s aims and objectives are I shall give you a little insight. The African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) works with the Anthony Nolan to recruit Bone Marrow Donors and NHS Blood and Transplant registries to sign up blood and organ donors.
Unlike the Anthony Nolan Trust, the ACLT predominately focuses on recruiting individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds, as it is these people that are the most severely unrepresented on both the Blood and Bone Marrow Register (less than 1%). Even though society is becoming more and more ethnically diverse, the percentage of registered people of mixed heritage like me is very small, as our tissue types become more and more unique to individuals from our ethnic background.
So if you have mixed heritage, you’ve got less than 1 in 100,000 chance of finding a match if none of your close family members are suitable! This shocking statistic ultimately means that those diagnosed with blood cancers such as leukaemia within minority ethnic communities are less likely to find a genetic match than someone who is of White Caucasian decent (who have approx. 1 in 4 chance of finding a match).
The ACLT campaigns tirelessly to recruit more people from Ethnic Minority backgrounds due to the massive shortfall of donors around the world. We desperately need more people to step forward. For some reason, our community is reluctant to sign up to the register and help save a life. As a result many more lives are being taken.
It Could Be YOU that ultimately helps save the life of someone like Sonia or Martin – Be a LIFESAVER!
Every so often, The ACLT works with closely with patients diagnosed with Leukaemia and subject to approval from the patient, a worldwide appeal is conducted to encourage more members of the public to sign up to become a potential donor for someone in need.
The ACLT charity are currently working with families that are in need of a life saving stem cell transplant and are holding recruitment drives across the United Kingdom for two individuals of mixed heritage. Those individuals are 42 year old Sonia Akow and 20 year Old Martin Solomon.
Sonia is a London music publicist from Push PR. She is a champion of underground music and tireless purveyor of new talent. Sonia received devastating news in November 2012 when doctors diagnosed her with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.
Sonia is currently undergoing chemotherapy and URGENTLY needs a stem cell transplant to save her life. Sonia and her family are working together with the ACLT, and are appealing for more people to join the Anthony Nolan register.
Due to Sonia’s mixed heritage (her mother was White Caucasian and her father is of Trinidadian decent) we particularly need more people of mixed heritage from any and or all of these communities – White British, Chinese, Black Caribbean, Black African and Indian backgrounds to come forward and register as a potential bone marrow donor.
Incredibly, Sonia’s mother sadly passed away of the same disease just over a year ago, and now her loved ones are having to go through the same heartbreak again.
Martin is from Manchester and is also of mixed heritage (White British and Jamaican decent) He is currently battling stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Martin was initially diagnosed with Stage 3B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in December 2007.
He was successfully treated with Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy and had been four years cancer free. Within that time he completed his A levels and went on to enrol at Newcastle University where he was about to enter his 3rd year of his Biomedical Science Degree.
Unfortunately in August 2012, Martin and his family received the terrible news that he had relapsed and was diagnosed with Stage 4 Relapse Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
He now URGENTLY requires a Stem cell transplant to offer him the best possible chance of a cure and ultimate survival of this disease. Martin’s two sisters were tested and are not a match. Despite a worldwide search, no match has currently been found and time is running out.
YOU COULD BE A MATCH FOR SOMEONE LIKE SONIA AND MARTIN!
If you are aged 16-30, in good health and live in the UK please consider coming along to one of the ACLT’s recruitment drives listed below.
Match for Sonia UK Appeal – Tuesday 26th Feb between2pm-8pm
The Shepherds Building
Match for MartinUK Appeal – Thursday 28th Feb between 12pm-8pm
100 Princess Road
Match for Sonia UK Appeal – Saturday 2nd March between 11am-5pm
34-35 Powis Square
Match for Martin UK Appeal – Monday 25th March between 3pm-7pm
Tesco Cheetham Hill,
(Off Bury Road)
Manchester M8 5DP
Upon arrival, you will complete an application form and provide a small saliva sample. Joining the register couldn’t be more simple!
If you are aged 31-49 – you are not too old to donate – click here to register via the National Blood Service (NBS) as a blood donor and you can join their bone marrow register (British Bone Marrow Register)
Once you are on the register, you could be called upon as a match for someone like Sonia and Martin and potentially save their life! If you are found to be a matching donor, donating your stem cells is not much different from giving blood and there is no operation involved.
Please take a few minutes to watch a short Anthony Nolan Animation Video to find out exactly what bone marrow donation involves.
If you live in the United Kingdom and cannot make the recruitment drives listed above you can register on-line and get a saliva kit delivered to your home address .
Should you not live in the UK, and would like to register to become a bone marrow donor, please click on your country of residence below:
Please help me spread the message far and wide, to friends, family members and work colleagues about the importance of signing up to become a bone marrow donor (especially those from ethnic minority communities) by sharing this post.
As a trained councillor for the ACLT, I am happy to take any questions you may have surrounding this article on behalf of the charity (please feel free to email me).
Please do not wait until it affects someone you know to make a difference, there are many people like Sonia and Martin who urgently need your help today and time is running out!
Danielle is a 1st Dan Kickboxing coach / Assistant Instructor under the PKA Kickboxing Association who is also a health, fitness, green beauty, wellness and lifestyle freelance writer / digital journalist. Her passions include encouraging others to lead an active, health conscious lifestyle whilst leading her Breakin’ Boundrez team on various fitness related challenges.