Birmingham students head minority ethnic stem cell call

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Shreena ChavdaImage source, 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 source, 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.


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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