Kent

Myelofibrosis man's family makes desperate appeal for bone marrow donor

Yevi Ilangakoon with his wife Andrea
Image caption Yevi Ilangakoon's wife Andrea said her husband was losing weight rapidly

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.

Rapid decline

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."

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