Priti Patel throws her support behind campaign for new stem cell donors

Left to right: Rik Basra, Rik Basra Leukaemia Campaign Priti Patel MP and Sarah Rogers Regional Register Development Manager for Anthony Nolan.

Priti Patel throws her support behind campaign for new stem cell donors

Published: 18th July 2019 - 6:43 am Category: General News

Priti Patel, the MP for Witham has attended a cross-party Parliamentary event today (17th July) to learn about the importance of the Anthony Nolan stem cell donor register.

The Rik Basra Leukaemia Campaign and #Match4Meena, were supported by their local Member of Parliament Neil O’Brien and blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, in holding the event designed to give MPs the opportunity to hear more about the 740,000 people in the UK on the Anthony Nolan register. MPs heard about the need for more young, male donors and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to join the register.

At the event,Fighting Blood Cancer at The Houses of Parliament, Priti heard aboutMeenaKumari-Sharma a 41-year-old who desperately needs a stem cell transplant to treat acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Meena, who has moved to Leicester as she receives treatment, is a mother of two who enjoys outdoor activities with her children. She has been appealing to the Asian community to join the stem cell register because, given her Indian heritage, Meena’s donor will most likely have a similar background.

Ahead of the event, Meena said: “I am truly honoured to be supported by Parliament in my search for a stem cell donor.  I represent one of over 2,000 people in the UK urgently searching for a donor and it is only with the sheer kindness of complete strangers that I can have a second chance at life.  I am hopeful that with your help I will be able to watch my five-year-old twins grow up.  Together we can all make a huge difference.”

MPs attending the event heard from former Leicestershire Police officer Rik Basra, who received a stem cell transplant via Anthony Nolan in 2011. Rik, and his wife Kas, founded the Rik Basra Leukaemia Campaign to increase the understanding of the many types of blood cancer and encourage people to join the UK stem cell register. Mr  Basra said: “It’s an absolute privilege to be holding an event in the Houses of Parliament.  We’re here to boost awareness of blood cancer and demonstrate just how simple it is to save a life. That said, too many are still dying for want of a stem cell donor. Stimulating debate to think up new ways to combat this awful disease is crucial. We’d encourage as many Members of Parliament and staff to drop-in for a chat and hopefully persuade many to lend support and become lifesavers too.”

Priti Patel said: “It’s was great to hear about the positive steps which have taken to increase the number of potential stem cell donors from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. This event highlighted the difficulties which remain for black, Asian and minority ethnic patients in need of donors and the vital work of the Rik Basra Leukaemia Campaign and #Match4Meena, working with Anthony Nolan. It’s hugely important that colleagues across Parliament come together to support this work to save the lives of more patients across the UK.The process is really simple and fast, just filling out a form and allowing a cheek swab to be taken.  That few minutes of your time could lead to a life being saved.  I encourage all young people in good health to take the time to register.”

Anthony Nolan recruits people aged 16-30 to the stem cell register as research has shown younger people, especially young men, are most likely to be chosen to donate their stem cells. The charity also carries out ground-breaking research to save more lives and provide information and support to patients after a stem cell transplant, through its clinical nurse specialists and psychologists, who help guide patients through their recovery.

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said: “People in the UK have always been incredibly supportive of our work and the need for more donors on the stem cell register. We urgently need more people aged 16-30, and from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, to sign up and give people hope. It’s time to rally once more to get the message out loud and clear, so that we can find a match for every person who needs a lifesaving stem cell transplant.“

Follow and support the campaign on social media by using – #ParliamentVBloodCancer. For more information about Anthony Nolan


What is a stem cell transplant?

If a patient has a condition that affects their bone marrow or blood, then a stem cell transplant may be their best chance of survival. Doctors will give new, healthy stem cells to the patient via their bloodstream, where they begin to grow and create healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. 

Key statistics

  • About 2,000 people in the UK need a stem cell transplant from a stranger every year
  • 90% of donors donate through PBSC (peripheral blood stem cell collection). This is a simple, outpatient procedure similar to giving blood
  • We need more people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to sign up. Only 60% of transplant recipients receive the best match. This drops dramatically to around 20% (one in five of transplant recipients) if you’re from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background.
  • We need more young men to sign up, as they are most likely to be chosen to donate but make up just 16% of the register

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