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Black & Mixed-Race Donors Urgently Needed

concerned manYou could save a life and lower the odds.

The Anthony Nolan Trust is appealing for African, Caribbean and mixed-race people to come forward and register to become bone marrow donors.

A bone marrow transplant can increase a receipients chances of beating certain types of cancer such Leukaemia and Blood Cancer.

If you need a transplant and are of African, Caribbean or mixed racial heritage the chances of finding a 100% match is 1 in 100,000 compared to 1 in 5 if you are white. Yet there are nearly 500,000 people of African, Caribbean or mixed racial heritage in the UK, that can actually help change this situation and so far less than 20,000 have registered. That means that if the group of potential donors being searched is small, the likelihood of finding a match will also be small.

When a person volunteers to be a donor, their particular blood tissue traits as determined by blood test are recorded in the Registry. Because tissue types are inherited, similar to hair or eye colour, it is more likely that a person needing a marrow transplant will find a donor in another family member. This, however, happens only 30% of the time. Next the UK database is searched for an unrelated individual who is a close match. It is more likely that a donor who comes from the same racial or ethnic group will have the same tissue traits. For people of African ancestry, this is particularly true, as some, tissue types are rarely found in donors from other races and may be unusual even among other people of African ancestry.

Many Black and mixed-race people have an unusually rare combination of the genes, called HLA genes that determine tissue type. These genes work sort of like a six-digit combination lock: To be a compatible donor, you need to have at least six versions of the genes in common with the recipient. The fewer of these genes that match, the greater the chance that the recipient's immune system will attack the donor cells. Therefore the more people to choose from, the closer the experts can get to an exact match.

It is in our hands to try and increase this total so that those in need can have the same chances of finding a donor as a white person. Cancer touches us all directly or indirectly. At some point in the future someone you know will probably need a Bone Marrow donor.

If you live in the UK you can go into a hospital and ask to give a blood test, and tell the doctor they need the results relating to bone marrow to be put on the national database urgently. It is important that you phone your local hospital first. Not all hospitals do this, depending on size. However they should be able to point you in the direction of the nearest hospital, or blood unit, which does.

Becoming a is not as scary as you might believe we've put together the lowdown on becoming a bone marrow transplant to help you make this important decision to save a life. Click here to find out more.




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