Myelofibrosis man's family makes desperate appeal for bone marrow donor
The family of a man with a rare bone marrow disorder is making a desperate appeal to find a donor to save him.
Yevi Ilangakoon - originally from Sri Lanka but living in Whitstable - was diagnosed with myelofibrosis in 2009.
The condition causes scar tissue to develop in the bone marrow, affecting its ability to make healthy blood.
Mr Ilangakoon's "only hope" is a bone marrow transplant but despite searching worldwide registers, his medical team have been unable to find a 100% match.
He said: "I can manage to go on like this for a few more years just on medication but with a stem cell transplant there is a 55% chance that within three to five years I would be cured 100%."
The rare condition - which can progress into leukaemia - only affects about 1 in every 100,000 people.
The family's plight has attracted the attention of Sri Lankan cricketer Mahela Jayawardena, who helped to raise awareness on social media - but they have still had no luck.
Mr Ilangakoon's son, Yovaan, said this was mainly due to the South Asian community being under-represented on bone marrow registers.
He added: "From the entire register only 4% are from a South Asian background and only 3% are from an Afro-Caribbean background.
"It doesn't mean to say that any other background can't be a match for my dad or anybody else but the tissue type is more likely to be from a South Asian background."
Mr Ilangakoon said a recent bone marrow biopsy showed his condition had progressed and was "very aggressive".
His wife Andrea added: "He is losing weight quite rapidly at the moment which means now it is imperative he finds a donor."
Sarah Rogers of the Anthony Nolan charity added: "At the moment we find a perfect match for about 60% of Northern European patients who need a transplant, but that drops to around 20% for any patient of ethnic minority."
With the situation becoming increasingly desperate, Yovaan Ilangakoon is appealing for people to sign up as donors online.
He said: "Donating your stem cells is as simple as donating blood."