Masters Student needs your help to find a bone marrow donor

Geographer Lara Casalotti is in urgent need of a stem cell transplant


A Masters student is appealing for suitable donors after struggling to find a good match.

Lara Casalotti, who studied Geography at Bristol before taking on a Masters in Global Migration at UCL, requires a bone marrow transplant after being diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, however due to her mixed race background she has struggled to find a good genetic match.

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On average, an ideal donor can be found for 60% of patients, but for black, Asian and mixed race patients, the number falls to just 20%, due to a lack of suitable donors.

Anthony Nolan report that “only three per cent of worldwide donors have more than one ethnic background”.

Lara’s family has launched an online campaign, Match4Lara, to encourage more mixed race people to join their donor registry.

Due to Lara’s unusual genetic background, with a Thai mother and an Italian father, the family have found it challenging to find a matching donor for her.

In response, student group Marrow have launched a ‘Tacking Inequalities’ campaign, which they hope will help increase sign ups from mixed race and ethnic minority to students.

Marrow is associated with Anthony Nolan, a national organisation who registers potential donors and  helps aims to match up the 2000 people in the UK every year who need a stem cell transplant from outside their own family with an ideal transplant.

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Lara after her first round of chemo

After it was found last year that a quarter of bone marrow donor registrations now happen at universities, the group are optimistic that their planned recruitment drive could help save the lives of many like Lara.

Andrew Wicks, President of Southampton Marrow, said “Registering as a potentially lifesaving donor is quick and easy: simply fill in a short form and provide a saliva sample using one of our ‘spit kits’.

“The process isn’t painful, and generally people just feel a bit tired or flu-like for day or two, a very small price to pay for the amazing effect it could have for somebody.”

You can sign up for the national registry at the group’s recruitment drive at SUSU on Tuesday 2nd February.