Humberside officers urged to join Bone Marrow Registry

Humberside officers are being urged to give three minutes of their time to potentially help save the life of someone with leukaemia.
A joint campaign by the West Midlands Black and Asian Police Association (BAPA) and the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT), is trying to raise awareness of the difficulty facing people of black or ethnic origins to find a matching donor if they are diagnosed with a blood cancer like leukaemia.
They are trying to more encourage more people from black or ethnic minority backgrounds to come forward and put their name down on the Bone Marrow Registry.
More than 70 people a day in the UK are diagnosed with a blood cancer like leukaemia and many of these are children. Replacing their cancerous blood cells through a process called stem cell/bone marrow donation can be the last chance of life-saving treatment for many of these patients.
When 75 per cent of those patients don’t find a matching donor in their families, they turn to the Bone Marrow Registry for an unrelated donor.
White people have a 60 per cent chance of finding a donor match as there are 30 times more white people on the register than black and other ethnic minorities.
As a result, that percentage drops to only 20.5 per cent for patients from a black, Asian or ethnic minority background. This is because finding a donor match is race specific and works only on: white to white, black to black and Asian to Asian grounds.
So, BAPA and ACLT are encouraging black officers and other racial minorities to take note and take three minutes to join the Bone Marrow Registry and help save lives, like that of former Leicestershire Police Inspector Rik Basra.
Rik was seriously ill with leukaemia until an unknown bone marrow match was found for him in Germany.
That saved his life and, in his words: “Gave my wife her husband, and my kids their father back.”
“My hero was a total stranger who came through for me just in time and I will be forever grateful to them,” added Rik. “But sadly my story is not unique. I beg you, please step forward, register and make a difference.”
Humberside Police Federation secretary Helen Collier said Rik’s story was evidence of how important every name on the register could be.
“It doesn’t take long to register so we are urging anyone who wants to get involved to please come forward and make a difference,” says Helen, “Finding the time to come forward and register could literally save someone’s life who is suffering from these type of illnesses,” says Helen.
The ACLT was founded in 1996 by black parents Beverley De-Gale and Orin Lewis, three years after receiving the devastating news that their six-year-old son Daniel De-Gale needed a stem cell transplant in order to win his battle against acute leukaemia.
They were told that the chances of finding a donor match for their son would be like winning the Lottery simply because he was black. So, they began a massive search to try to save his life. After several years of toxic treatments to sustain him, Daniel found his match in an American black woman who joined the Bone Marrow Registry during three minutes of her lunch break.
Daniel received this life-saving treatment and was able to go to school, university, and enjoy playing football with his friends.
In October 2008, Daniel died at the age of 21 as a result of multiple organ failure. This was due to complications with his health having waited too long for his donor match to be found - but his parents have never stopped trying to increase the amount of ethnic minorities on the bone marrow, blood and organ donor registers.
Those in BME communities are also much more likely to need a bone marrow donation due to certain blood diseases, like sickle cell anaemia, which are more common in BME populations.
The process of donating stem cells is done in one of two ways. So around 90 per cent of those donating will have their stem cells taken from their blood. This is very similar to giving blood and is quick, easy, and pain free. The biggest problem is boredom as the process takes four hours.
The other 10 per cent of those donating will have the stem cells taken from their hip, under a general anaesthetic. No drills, just a small needle patched up with a plaster afterwards. Some equate any discomfort felt to the day after a good session in the gym. A session that could save someone’s life.
Donor kits, which involve a short application form and a cheek swab, are sent out with full instructions on how to use them and send them back.
The main exclusions for donation are:
• Being under 17 or over 55.
• Having a BMI of over 40, or weighing under seven stone.
• If specific health concerns may deem you unsuitable to donate, such as heart or lung disease.
For more information, please contact Marcia Francis on