Former Leicester City and England footballer, Gary Lineker, has added his support to a Leicestershire Police campaign for people to register as blood stem cell donors with the charity, Anthony Nolan, to help save the life of one of their colleagues.
Leicestershire officer, Inspector Rik Basra is currently undergoing extensive treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and requires a blood stem cell (bone marrow) transplant to save his life, but this must come from a matching donor.
The best match donor for Rik is likely to be an Asian person, but on both the national and international donor register, there is a substantial shortage of Asian people. Therefore, working with Rik’s family and the charity, Anthony Nolan, the Force is launching a campaign and organising a programme of events to increase the number of Asian donors. Men aged between 18 and 30 are the group most likely to be asked to donate, so Rik’s family and the Force are particularly keen to get more young men registered.
The campaign will be launched tomorrow (Wednesday October 26, 2011) during Leicester’s Diwali celebrations in Belgrave.
Members of the public are encouraged to drop into Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre, Rothley Street, Leicester, between 6pm and 9pm on Wednesday, to give their support to the campaign and find out more about joining the register. Trained volunteers from the police and Anthony Nolan will be on hand to answer questions and assist in registration. They will ask for some medical information and a small saliva sample, which will be sent away for tissue typing to see if they match Rik. Anyone found to be a match for Rik, or one of the 1,600 people in the UK who need a transplant, would at a later date then be asked to donate their blood stem cells.
Donation of stem cells is a simple process which in the vast majority of cases is very much like giving blood. Some common questions are answered here.
Donors can also register online at www.anthonynolan.org/register – once Anthony Nolan has checked you’re eligible, a saliva kit will be posted to your home.
People providing a saliva sample should have refrained from eating, drinking, smoking or chewing gum, for 30 minutes prior to giving the sample.
Chief Constable Simon Cole said:
“This campaign is very important to us as it involves one of our colleagues and we obviously want to do everything possible to help Rik to fully recover from this dreadful illness.
“In that respect we are encouraging young Asian male donors to come forward, but we would certainly not discourage anyone aged between 18 and 40 from registering as a donor, regardless of their ethnicity or gender. The more people there are on the donor register, the more people who are suffering from blood cancers, including leukaemia, stand a chance of recovery.”
Rik’s wife, Kas Basra, said: “There are many families out there going through this nightmare. I, like many others, had little understanding of the donation process. In reality, it is really straightforward and will have little impact, if any, on the donor. However, by registering you will literally be making a life saving decision that could help not only Rik, but so many others.
“This dreadful disease could strike anyone at any age and we all need to work together to get the stem cell database up. Please register by either coming along to an event or registering online and save a life.”
Former Leicester City and England footballer, Gary Lineker, who has added his support to this campaign, said:
“This campaign is very close to my heart as my own son, George, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia when he was only weeks old.
“Thankfully, George’s life was saved by the treatment he received at Great Ormond Street hospital, and he is now a very healthy 19-year-old. However, through my own experience, I can sympathise with and understand the anguish Rik’s family are going through at this time, in trying to find a suitable blood stem cell donor.
“I would personally urge everyone to think about registering to become blood stem cell donor.
“Please take that positive step – it is your chance to give a leukaemia victim the gift of life.”
Jenner Large, regional recruitment manager with Anthony Nolan, said:
“Anthony Nolan does everything it can to rind matches for the people who need them. However, the challenge increases for a patient from any ethnic background because there are fewer people on the register from these groups. It really is easier than many people think and you could save a life.”
Further events are being planned at other locations within the Force area. Details of these will be published in due course.
People wishing to make a monetary donation to Anthony Nolan can do so via Rik Basra’s Just Giving page
Read Rik’s story here.
Update: 27th October
Police thank public for overwhelming support for bone marrow campaign
Police want to thank the public for their fantastic support following the launch of their campaign to find a bone marrow match for one of their colleagues.
More than 140 people registered with Anthony Nolan during the Diwali celebrations in Leicester last night (Wednesday October 26), to help find a donor for Inspector Rik Basra, who is currently undergoing extensive treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia and needs a blood stem cell (bone marrow) transplant to save his life.
Teams of volunteers from Rik’s family, Leicestershire Police and Anthony Nolan mingled with the crowds on Belgrave Road, handing out information and encouraging people to go to Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre and the former school building on Abbey Park Street to provide saliva samples and register on the database.
Chief Constable Simon Cole, said:
“I was at the Diwali event myself and witnessed at first hand the extraordinary response to our appeal. At several stages throughout the event, people were queuing out of the door of both registration centres. It was an incredible and very humbling sight.
“I cannot thank the public enough and I hope this support will continue throughout our campaign to find a donor match for Rik, and other people suffering from blood cancers such as leukaemia.
”We must also extend our appreciation to Leicester City Council for arranging for us to use the neighbourhood centre, and the local media for their work in promoting the campaign.”
Kas Basra, Rik’s wife, said:
“On behalf of my family I want to thank all those in the campaign to increase the number of stem cell donors. Most of all I want to thank all those that registered – your actions really will make a difference and could save a life.
“Diwali was really a great day to launch this really worthwhile campaign. Please ensure this is just the start by spreading the word. We really want to help all those faced with this dreadful disease; the current register is under-subscribed we can all help to change that.”
Jenner Large, Regional Recruitment Manager from Anthony Nolan, said
“We had an overwhelming response at Rik’s campaign launch at Leicester Diwali, particularly from the young men within the community who will make the best donors, which is fantastic. Each and every one of them have increased the chances of patients like Rik of finding their lifesaving match. Thank you.
The saliva samples given last night will be sent away for tissue typing to see if they match Rik, or one of the 1,600 people in the UK who need a transplant. Anyone found to be a match would, at a later date, then be asked to donate their blood stem cells.
Donations of stem cells is a simple process which in the vast majority of cases is very much like giving blood. Some common questions are answered here.
Jenner Large, added:
“Anthony Nolan’s ‘Man on a Mission’ campaign is very much at the heart of helping people like Rik. Young people in Leicester can join the ‘Man on a Mission’ campaign by getting online and helping us to spread the word of how easy it is to help save a life. Check out how we’re getting on with convincing people in other cities and help us to show people in Leicester that they could help save a life too.”
People who were unable to register at yesterday’ event, can do so at a further event being held at the Leicester Tiger’s Ground, on Saturday November 12, between 12pm and 4pm.
Donors can also register online at www.anthonynolan.org/register.
Once Anthony Nolan has checked you are eligible, a saliva kit will be posted to your home.
Poster (PDF file 243 KB)