A London film student and the ACLT have taken action to spread awareness surrounding the lack of BME (Black Minority Ethnic) donors registered to the UK stem cell register by releasing a short film to highlight the problem. #CouldYouBeMyMatch is available to watch on YouTube now.
Created in memory of student Kevin Kararwa, the 3 minute film entitled “Could you be my Match” was written and directed by film maker Maddie Gatabaki, a close friend to Kevin.
In April 2012 Kevin was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. He went onto receive intensive chemotherapy but sadly this wasn’t enough to beat the leukaemia. After a worldwide search of volunteer donor registries and donor appeals set up by ACLT a match could not be found. Doctors decided Kevin’s only chance was to receive a 50% matched transplant donation from his younger brother Ian.
Kevin’s story hit the national news May 2014 when he relapsed and Consultant’s at King’s College Hospital, London confirmed there was nothing more they could do for him – he had only weeks to live. On 19th May 2014 Kevin passed away – he was just 24 years of age.
During the last few days of his life Kevin’s final wishes to his mother and close friend Maddie was for his story “to be the catalyst in creating awareness on stem cell (bone marrow) donation within the African and Caribbean community like never before”. Maddie Gatabaki says “Kevin asked me to use my film studies degree to create a short film which raised awareness on the fact that there were 30 times more White people than black people on the UK stem cell register. He wanted to inspire 2,400 people to join it (100 people for each day of his life) and to raise £24,000 for ACLT, the charity who were supporting his mother, brother and him throughout his treatment and during the final weeks of his life”.
Veronica Kararwa, mother of Kevin says: “The odds to beat leukaemia were stacked against Kevin due to there being less than a 20% chance of finding a match for him as a result of being black. The upshot of these odds meant that I lost my son. But, with people from the African and Caribbean communities joining the stem cell register these odds could be improved and more lives can be saved. I wish to honour the wishes of Kevin by encouraging as many people of African and Caribbean heritage to join the UK stem cell register by attending the ACLT flagship donor registration drive on Saturday 14th March at Capital XTRA’s London HQ between 12 -6pm. For those outside of London please visit aclt.org to find out how you can still join.”
#CouldYouBeMyMatch is available to watch on YouTube.
Anthony Nolan and African-Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) launch campaign to boost the number of black donors
Anthony Nolan and ACLT have launched the #BeingAfricanCaribbean campaign to boost the number of black stem cell (or bone marrow) donors. The campaign aims to tackle the donor shortage by educating elders and influencers, as well as young people, within black communities.
There are now 30 times more white people than African-Caribbean people on the bone marrow register, meaning that only around only 20% of black people will find a perfect match. Results of a new survey suggest that the lack of black stem cell (or bone marrow) donors may be due to poor awareness, combined with the integral role that family networks play within African-Caribbean cultures.
The survey of 4,600 people revealed that:
- just over one in three black respondents (37%) would be supportive if a young family member (16-21) wanted to donate stem cells, compared to nearly two-thirds (64%) of the overall sample.
- over a third of black people surveyed (35%) felt that donating for 16-17 year olds should require parental permission and nearly one in four (24%) felt that people aged 16-21 are too young to make this decision alone – again, higher than average and other ethnic groups.
- nearly one in ten black respondents (8%) said their family wouldn’t approve of donating stem cells – compared to just 1% of the total population, and 12% of black people also viewed donating stem cells as a ‘dangerous activity’, the highest of any ethnicity.
- over a third (34%) of the older black generation, aged 35 and over, mistakenly associated donating stem cells with ‘cloning’, compared to just 18% of the overall sample.
- just 18% of young black people aged 16-34 associated donating stem cells with ‘lifesaving’ and 14% associated it with ‘leukaemia’.
- nearly one in five (18%) of the younger black generation have heard donating is painful, compared to 2% of those over 35.
To join the register you must be between 16 and 30, and you will remain on the register until you are 60.
For more information about the ‘Being African-Caribbean’ campaign and to join the Anthony Nolan register go to www.anthonynolan.org/africancaribbean. For more information about ACLT, go to www.aclt.org