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Bone marrow registration day to help save Lara

biomedical students in lab

Help save the life of HSB lecturer’s daughter

Students and staff at the University of East London (UEL) have been urged to register as bone marrow donors at two on-campus events to help find a match for the daughter of a lecturer diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukaemia.

Dr Stefano Casalotti is a senior lecturer in the School of Health, Sport and Bioscience. A week before Christmas, his 24-year old daughter, 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.

Unfortunately, none of Lara's family is a suitable donor. The fact that her father is Italian and her mother is Thai makes finding a match is much harder than usual.

Doctors have advised that Lara's best chance of finding the right donor is among people of mixed Asian­-European heritage between the ages of 16 to 30. 

To help find a life-saving match for Lara, the University's bone marrow society (UEL Marrow) is organising two donor registration events to encourage staff and students to join the bone marrow register. Establishing a match can be achieved by providing a simple saliva sample.

If you are outside the 16-30 age range, please help by alerting students to the donor events.

The hunt for a suitable donor for Lara is already the subject of a nationwide publicity campaign, with reports being carried on BBC News and celebrities such as J.K. Rowling, Gareth Bale and Stephen Fry joining a massive Twitter campaign under the hashtag #match4lara. 

The events will be held at Stratford campus on Friday, 22 January, in CC G06 from 10am to 5pm and at Docklands campus on Friday, 29 January, in EBG10 from 10am to 5pm.

Dr Casalotti said, “I’m seeing this both as a parent and as a scientist. Doctors and scientists are trying to do their best to cure this disease, but we know that for the next 10 or 20 years, we will still need stem cells or transplants as part of the treatment. 

“Unfortunately, I cannot help even though I am on the bone marrow register, and have been for many years. If we were all on the register, then when anybody needed stem cells, a match could be found. 

“So please join the register and you could help save a life.”

You can find out more about the Match4Lara appeal on the Anthony Nolan website. 

Friday, 22 January 2016

CC G.06, Stratford campus 

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