Thousands sign up to donate stem cells thanks to UCLH patient Lara Casalotti 

28/01/2016 00:00 
One of UCLH’s young leukaemia patients has encouraged more than 10000 people to sign up as stem cell donors since being diagnosed last December.
 

Lara Casalotti, 24, has acute myeloid leukaemia and needs a stem cell transplant to save her life. Her mixed heritage – Chinese, Thai and Italian – makes it harder to find a stem cell donor, as matching donors often come from the same ethnic background. Only 3 per cent of donors on the public stem cell registries are of mixed race.

As Lara’s younger brother was not a match, her family launched a global appeal to help find a donor. Since #match4lara was launched, 10000 people have signed up for the Anthony Nolan register and 2600 new donors have signed up to Delete Blood Cancer.

Lara was studying part-time for an MA and volunteering abroad when she was diagnosed. She is having her second round of chemotherapy and needs to find a donor by April to help her make a full recovery.

Lara said: “I’m astounded by how much the #match4lara has grown. It’s so heartening to see people from around the world of different backgrounds and ethnicities united behind the campaign.

“There are so many patients like me waiting for a donor so my main objective is to encourage as many people as possible to sign up. Register as a donor and you could save someone’s life.”

Lara’s consultant is Professor Asim Khwaja, consultant haematologist at UCLH and professor of haematology in the UCL Cancer Institute. He said: “Lara is responding well to treatment so far and is in remission – but a stem cell transplant represents her best chance of a cure and finding a suitable donor is critical to that.”

“We’re as keen as Lara to encourage prospective donors to come forward to help patients who may need a stem cell transplant.”

For more information on Lara’s campaign and to find out how to become a donor, visit www.match4lara.com

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