Last year, my older brother Ben was diagnosed with an extremely rare illness called Aplastic Anaemia, which is a failure of the bone marrow.
Due to this, it meant Ben would have to undergo a bone marrow transplant to have a healthy, safe and normal life. As his sister, I was the first choice of donor for the transplant, however after being tested, I was only a 50% match to Ben. This meant there was a high chance the transplant would be unsuccessful and potentially dangerous for Ben.
This led the doctors to look on the Anthony Nolan register for someone who could be an 100% match with Ben. We were told that if you are Black, Asian, of a mixed ethnicity, or any minority ethnic background you would only have 20% chance of finding a match. This is due to the fact there is a huge lack of ethnic donors. More people need to be made aware of the register and the importance of it, it would mean more people in desperate need would have more chance of getting the life line that they need.
Unfortunately, my family had to go through this heart-breaking time to realise the importance of bone marrow donors, and there should be a lot more awareness of it. It scares me that if I could not donate to my brother, it would be extremely difficult to find someone to help and therefore detrimental to Ben’s health.
For those that don’t know, the Anthony Nolan Charity is a charity in the UK, it allows people worldwide to donate their stem cells or bone marrow to someone who desperately requires a transplant. They also do a lot of research into bone marrow transplants and making them more effective. Without these donations and incredible people that sign up, for most people there would not be a cure. They are currently encouraging male donors and people of ethnic backgrounds as there is a huge lack of male and ethnic donors. The charity helps 3 people find a match a day and this can grow as more people sign up. If you are an ethnic background, I urge that you sign up to the register. To sign up, all they need is a swab from saliva that can be sent in the post. Once you’ve sent it back, you’re on the register. It is one of the easiest yet greatest things you could do, not to mention a small price to pay to help someone you love or someone in need.
Please don’t leave it until it’s someone close to you that needs it, you could really change/ save someone’s life.
For more information, check out the website for the Anthony Nolan Charity by clicking here.
Article by Amy Stephenson, insta: @_amystephenson