|Rik Basra represents the Rik Basra Leukaemia Campaign|
Rik Basra works as a Police Inspector for Leicestershire Police I first contracted leukaemia in 2009 when I was treated with chemotherapy, however, I relapsed in September 2011. This time round though the consultant told me that I needed a bone marrow transplant; without one I simply would not survive. My wife Kas and I were anxious from the outset as I already knew from my first bout of cancer that I did not have a sibling match; sadly none of my three brothers were compatible. My only chance was an unrelated donor, and I learnt that my best chance of a match would be someone from the same ethnic background. Although I was born and brought up in Leicester, my heritage is Indian – but Asian donors at the time made up just 4% of the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register. In an instant my chances of finding a matching donor had nosedived. I was put on an intensive chemotherapy regime to fight the disease, a donor would be academic if I could not get back into remission. But I also knew that having started chemotherapy the clock was now ticking – the doctors couldn’t keep giving me chemotherapy indefinitely and too much would kill me as surely as the cancer! The treatment as you would expect was harsh but it wasn’t the thing that occupied my thoughts, without a donor i knew i was going to die… The days turned into weeks. At one point we were advised of two possible donors, but frustratingly both failed to respond to Anthony Nolan’s attempts to make contact with them. Fate seemed to be toying with us… the clock continued to tick. We were eventually called into the family room for a meeting with the consultant, who advised us that a search of the register had proved fruitless and we should consider starting to make “arrangements”. It seemed so desperately unfair and frustrating; I knew that a transplant had its own risks but to not even be given the chance was really hard to come to terms with. Things looked dire, but miracles do happen… …I still remember the day like it was yesterday, I was with Kas in the hospital ward lying on my bed, I was literally just a couple of weeks from completing my final bout of chemotherapy. The consultant came to tell me that they had found a donor! I couldn’t believe it – we had all but given up hope, I just looked at Kas in disbelief. But someone in Germany had gone to the trouble of registering, a selfless act which would save my life, give my wife her husband and my kids their father back, words cannot express my gratitude to that person. Many people think heroes are people like Arnie or Rambo, but in the real world, heroes are ordinary people like you and me who “step up to the plate” in someone’s hour of need. My hero was a total stranger who came through for me just in time and I will be forever grateful to them. But sadly my story is not unique – right now there are many others just like me in hospitals up and down the country going through the same nightmare. I beg you, please step forward and be their hero; please register and make a difference.