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Lecturer’s joy as stem cell match is found for daughter Lara

student practicing biomedical immunology

Lara to undergo potentially life-saving bone marrow transplant after donor is found

UEL lecturer Dr Stefano Casalotti has spoken of his joy at the news that a bone marrow match has been found for his daughter, Lara.

Lara, 24, was taken ill before Christmas while on holiday in Thailand and was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.

She needs an urgent stem cell transplant to save her life but the lack of a compatible donor meant her survival hopes depended on a global appeal to find someone who was a match.

Because of Lara’s mixed heritage (Italian and Thai), the task of finding a suitable donor was all the more difficult. None of her immediate family was compatible, while only three per cent of registered donors worldwide are of mixed race.

In response, family and friends launched a high-profile global campaign called Match4Lara, which attracted celebrity endorsements and was featured in the national and international media.

Among the thousands who joined the bone marrow register, more than 300 UEL students and staff signed up at recruitment days held in Stratford and Docklands.

Today came the fantastic news that a suitable donor has now been found. Because of patient confidentiality, the donor’s identity has not been revealed.

Dr Casalotti said, "We are absolutely delighted that we have found a match for Lara and I would like to thank everyone that has supported the search for a donor, especially UEL students and staff who have played a big part in it.”

Although a match for Lara has now been found, donors from mixed and black and minority ethnic backgrounds are still under-represented on the register.

In an attempt to address this, UEL’s Marrow society are organising another donor recruitment drive event on 22 February at Stratford campus from 10am to 5pm.