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UEL students and staff members rally round to help save life of lecturer’s daughter

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Record numbers register as bone marrow donors in response to Match4Lara appeal

Hundreds of University of East London (UEL) students and staff members have signed up to the bone marrow register in response to an appeal by Dr Stefano Casalotti (pictured) to help save the life of his daughter, Lara.

A week before Christmas, 24-year-old 24 Lara, was taken ill while on holiday in Thailand. Blood tests revealed she was suffering from acute myeloid leukaemia.

Lara is now undergoing chemotherapy at University College Hospital and doctors have told her she needs a stem cell transplant to save her life. This involves taking healthy stem cells from the blood or bone marrow of a compatible donor.

Finding someone with the right bone marrow match is particularly problematic for Lara because of her mixed Italian-Thai heritage.

Following an appeal across the University, a total of 325 students and staff members signed up to be bone marrow donors by providing a saliva sample at registration sessions held in Stratford and Docklands campus. The two events were organised by UEL’s bone marrow Society, UEL Marrow.

Dr Casalotti was present at both events and admitted it was an emotional experience to see  so many people coming forward to help. The appeal was open to anyone in good health under the age of 30.

"I was deeply moved by the amazing response I saw from the students that kept arriving to join the register for stem cell donors,” said Dr Casalotti.

“This really demonstrates how UEL students are engaged in university life and respond to civic engagement opportunities when they arise.”

“A special thanks must go to the UEL Marrow group who have managed the event, the UEL Communications team for the publicity and my colleagues and staff from the blood cancer charity, Anthony Nolan, for supporting the event.”

“This event was linked to the match4lara campaign in which I am emotionally involved, but we must remember that every person that has joined the register now has the opportunity to save a life in the near or further future.”

The President of the Student society UEL Marrow Peter Carr was also impressed with the response that these two recent events inspired.

“We got a fantastic 168 people signed up onto Anthony Nolan's bone marrow register in Stratford and 157 people in Docklands campus.

Both registration events were also attended by Sarah Rogers from Anthony Nolan.

She said, “There was also a wonderful show of support from the students who volunteered, many of whom were new to Marrow but seemed to be really enjoying themselves and demonstrated real commitment to the cause.

“Although I don’t yet have the official breakdown, I know from observation that we achieved a far higher BAME sign-up than usual, which is great news for Match4Lara and the register as a whole. Any one of the students who signed up on Friday could potentially save a life one day.

If you were not able to attend either of the two previous donor events, there will be another chance to register at Stratford campus at 22 February from 10am to 5pm.

Alternatively, you can visit the Anthony Nolan website and register online.

If you would like to join the register but are over 30 years old, you can visit the Delete Blood Cancer website.