Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham students head minority ethnic stem cell call

Shreena Chavda Image copyright Anthony Nolan
Image caption Shreena Chavda donated stem cells after joining the register at her university's freshers' fair

Student volunteers are starting a campaign to recruit hundreds of potential stem cell donors.

The Birmingham project will focus on recruiting people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, for whom finding a match can be more difficult.

The week-long push, starting on Monday, is being led by the Anthony Nolan charity's student volunteer network - Marrow.

Shreena Chavda donated cells last year after registering at university.

She said it was "the least painful but one of the most joyful things I have ever done".

"Coming from an ethnic minority background, I instantly knew that I had been called up to donate because there was no one else, as I know men are more likely to be chosen," she said.

"After I donated I felt so happy and energetic that I had done something to actually help someone."

Image copyright Anthony Nolan
Image caption Medical student Shaswath Ganapathi became a volunteer after losing a friend to leukaemia

Blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan said Marrow operated in 55 universities, including three in Birmingham, and the people it recruited accounted for more than a quarter of all people who go on to donate stem cells.

'Life-changing'

Shaswath Ganapathi, a third-year medical student at Birmingham University, is a Birmingham Marrow committee member.

He volunteered after his friend died from leukaemia last year.

"The donors I have spoken to have said that it's the most life-changing thing they have ever done, and they would never have thought that spending a few minutes signing up at a stand and doing a quick cheek swab could lead to potentially saving someone's life," he said.

The Anthony Nolan register is open to anyone aged 16-30 and in good health and is used to match potential donors to blood cancer and blood disorder patients in need of transplant.

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