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Miracles do happen with two donor matches found in one week

Last week was a particularly rewarding week in our pursuit to give all blood cancer patients an equal chance to find a lifesaving donor match, with two young cancer patients finding that all important matching donor.

As previously featured, 5-year-old Tommy Simpson from the #Match4Tommy campaign was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in January 2016. Being from a mixed White British and Black Caribbean heritage, Tommy’s chances of finding a suitable donor, like many other mixed heritage patients were sadly very slim (less than 20%).

In the UK, only 3% of donors on the register are from a mixed race background and sadly many lose the battle due to this lack of awareness. Despite the less than positive outlook, an unrelated matched stem cell donor was found for Tommy to the delight of his parents Maxine and Nigel Simpson.

Tommy Simpson
5 year old Tommy Simpson

In our more recent #Match4Khaleel campaign, 12-year-old Khaleel Khan from Telford, West Midlands has been undergoing treatment at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and was desperately in need of a lifesaving transplant. His mixed English and Pakistani heritage left him with an equally difficult chance of finding a donor match.

Khaleel Khan
12 year old Khaleel Khan

In the same week that Tommy found his match, Khaleel’s mother Kelly, posted on Facebook:

“It is the news we have been waiting for. Khaleel has a match. Two matching live donors have been found – one from Germany and one from Canada. They are going ahead with the match from Germany, but will have the one from Canada as a backup. No words can describe how happy we are.”

A team of volunteers led by Gemma Elsmore at Asda Donnington for a donor drive to find a #Match4Khaleel
A team of volunteers led by Gemma Elsmore and Aaliyah Khan at Asda Donnington for a donor drive to find a #Match4Khaleel

Both Tommy and Khaleel’s family have urged the public to continue to come forward and register as a donor so that other patients in need of a match can be helped. If you have not yet signed up to the stem cell and bone marrow register and would like to do so online, you can sign up here today.


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Race Against Blood Cancer leads the #Match4Khaleel patient appeal

Race Against Blood Cancer is spear heading the rare mixed race bone marrow patient appeal for Khaleel Khan, a young schoolboy who is suffering from leukaemia.

Khaleel, a 12-year-old boy from Telford, West Midlands, is currently undergoing treatment at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and desperately needs a transplant next month. His mixed English and Pakistani heritage is sadly leaving him with a very slim chance of finding a donor match.

This isn’t the first time that Khaleel has to deal with adversity though, as he overcame a number of illnesses as a baby including having a shunt fitted on his brain to relieve water and meningitis, all of which he recovered from. His mum Kelly, 31, is now urging everyone who has not yet signed up to the register to do so. As she told the press “Khaleel is now on week six of the relapse treatment and will need a bone marrow transplant in February.”

khaleel in hospital        Khaleel Family

Initial signs appeared in June 2014 as he started losing his appetite and his glands began swelling on his neck. Thinking it was a throat infection as other kids had had it too, doctors at Shropdoc prescribed him with antibiotics. A few days in, he still wasn’t feeling better.

“On July 6 he was complaining of leg pain, but thankfully he was still under the care of Birmingham Children’s Hospital as he had yearly checks on his shunt. We phoned them and asked if we could bring him to them and they agreed so we took him to their A&E department.”

“He was seen almost immediately and they did the usual checks including a blood test. They knew what they were looking at but needed to confirm it.”

Two hours later, the blood test results were back and confirmed what the doctors feared –  leukaemia. Khaleel immediately started chemotherapy and missed the whole of year five at primary school due to illness. The treatment went well though and he returned to being a young lively boy again a year later as he returned to school. He started secondary school in September 2016 and his family was looking forward to him finishing treatment in November 2017.

Sadly, Khaleel was readmitted to Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital in November last year with a slight temperature, and after a few tests, it appeared that the leukaemia had come back.  “This is going to be a long journey for Khaleel, maybe six months or more. We just don’t know”

Dr. Sarah Lawson, Birmingham Children’s Hospital’s clinical lead for stem cell transplant said: “Stem cell and bone marrow transplants form a crucial part of treatment for a number of blood cancers.

“We know that the chances of finding matching donors for our children and young people from minority ethnic or mixed race backgrounds are under 20 per cent because of a much smaller pool of potential matches.” She continues, “it’s really important that there’s a diverse range of people who are registered to donate some of their blood stem cells and bone marrow.” She added: “Testing is easy and involves a simple mouth swab or people can sign up when they are giving a blood donation, but it could potentially save a life.”

The Race Against Blood Cancer team plans to run several donor drives in the coming weeks to help find a potential lifesaving donor match for Khaleel. If you have not yet signed up to the stem cell and bone marrow register and would like to do so online, you can sign up here.

Source: www.shropshirestar.com/news/health/2017/01/16/mixed-race-bone-marrow-donor-appeal-for-telford-boy-khaleel-121132737


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Making our mark at the Caribbean Culture Festival

Colourful. Fun. Informative. Educational. And Positive – these are the adjectives that describe the Carribbean Culture Festival that Race Against Blood Cancer attended on 3rd July.

 

Thanks to a few connections and good words on the work that we have done so far, we were kindly invited to join the celebrations at Millennium Hotel on Gloucester Road and run a donor drive as part of the Match4Tommy campaign.

 

The drive was a roaring success and allowed us to go home fuelled with smiles, love and energy as we managed to sign up 70 new donors to the register, what more with no prior advertising. But thanks to the captive audience, brilliant event organisers and the microphone that we were given to go on stage and talk about our work, our vision and why signing up was so important, we were able to win everyone’s hearts.

 

As a family friendly environment, a number of people came up to us and mentioned how they felt the Match4Tommy appeal was so important and that it was one of the contributing factors as to why they signed up.

 

As part of the event, Race Against Blood Cancer was surrounded by great performances, brilliant food and amazing people.

 

We can’t wait to take part in the event again next year and would like to say a massive thank you to Natasha, Eon and everyone else who helped make the day possible and supported us throughout.

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Race Against Blood Cancer joins the fun at Shropshire Kids Festival

On April 23rd & 24th the Race Against Blood Cancer team joined the thousands of excited children and parents at Shrewsbury Quarry Park for our first appearance at Shropshire Kids Festival.

The basic yet incredibly worthwhile concept is bringing fun activities for under 14’s into one place and with more than 100 activities to get involved in, the festival did not disappoint. From donkey rides, face painting, to an inflatable Helter Skelter, there was something to keep every child entertained and that bought thousands of families together for a fun filled weekend.

Registration team of volunteers at Kids Fest in Shrewsbury
Registration team of volunteers at Kids Fest in Shrewsbury
Slides, pools and games made it Kids Paradise
Slides, pools and games made it Kids Paradise
Parents were really keen to find out how they could help
Parents were really keen to find out how they could help

Race Against Blood Cancer pitched up with a huge gazebo with both an energetic and passionate team. Following the family and children theme, the team was made up of volunteers from both London and local Salopians, parents and kids a like.

The team enjoyed the frequent sunny spells and luckily the less frequent showers. Running around the festival speaking to anyone that would listen, raising awareness and signing up the much needed bone marrow and stem cell donors, the team was in full flow.

In working in partnership with the #match4tommy campaign we hoped for a great turn out and we weren’t disappointed! By the end of the two days and an amazing effort by the whole team, we managed to collect 200 new donors! This was an amazing outcome and an event we all thoroughly enjoyed. The atmosphere was buzzing throughout and we are extremely grateful for the opportunity to attend.

A huge thanks goes to out to Beth Heath, Rachel Davy, Emma Davies, along with all of those who came down and helped out. Lastly and most importantly, thank you to all the kind donors we signed up on the day. We hope you continue to share our hopes and dreams of finding the likes of Tommy and every blood cancer patient a lifesaving donor match.


Race Against Blood Cancer

Promoting #Match4Tommy Campaign at Kids Fest, Shrewsbury

Another busy weekend is lined up for us as we will be heading to Kids Fest in Shrewsbury on 23rd/24th April.

It will be a very busy weekend for our Race Against Blood Cancer engagement team who will be at Shropshire Kids Fest on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th April. With entertainment for kids of all ages, it will be a great opportunity for us to raise awareness for the #Match4Tommy campaign which started when 4 year old Tommy was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in January this year.

Race Against Blood Cancer at Kids Fest

Crowds of over 10,000 people, including children of all ages, are expected over the course of the two day event with many activities to keep the kids busy while the parents and teenagers from ages of 16+ take 5 minutes to sign up as new stem cell and bone marrow donors.

We are still looking for volunteers to join the team, if you are free and would like to help spread the word and have fun, please reach out to ben.westwood@raceagainstbloodcancer.com

You can also help us by spreading the word and posting within your networks. As a recent registrant told us at one of our latest events – “I registered after seeing the RABC posts. Even though I had researched stem cell and cord blood when pregnant I had no idea becoming a donor and finding a match could be done through a simple cheek swab.”

Follow us on social media and stay tuned for news, photos and updates throughout the event!

For ticket information and further details on the event, please visit http://www.shropshirekidsfest.co.uk/


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