Leicester

Leicester University stem cell donor register record broken

Rik Basra Image copyright Rik Basra
Image caption Rik Basra is credited with encouraging many more Asian and black people in Leicester to donate stem cells for transplantation, after his own successful operation

A UK charity's record for registering the most stem cell donors in one day has been broken in Leicester.

The University of Leicester and Anthony Nolan event was backed by policeman Rik Basra, who had a transplant in 2011.

A total of 1,405 people signed a stem-cell register at the drive, beating the previous record of 1,020, also set in the city in 2014.

"It's phenomenal… it has been amazing," Mr Basra's wife Kas said. "We are very emotional about it all."

'Quite remarkable'

The donors agreed to sign up to the Anthony Nolan register - which helps match stem cells with blood cancer patients. The register is run in partnership with the NHS and other charities and contains 500,000 profiles.

"Back in 2014 when we had our 'Race to 1,000', we recruited 1,020 [donors], so we wanted to break our own record and set a new UK record," added Mrs Basra.

Health experts say Asian people are more likely to need organ transplants than the rest of the population because they are more susceptible to illnesses such as diabetes, kidney disease, viral infections and heart disease.

Image caption The donation drive smashed the previous one-day record of 1,020 also set by the University of Leicester

Mr Basra said: "My stem cells stopped working correctly, they started producing defective cells so I needed somebody else's cells to replace mine.

"My blood group has now changed to my donor's.

"Effectively, I've got somebody else's immune system working in my body keeping me alive."

Anthony Nolan head of register development, Ann O'Leary, said: 'The event in Leicester was the most remarkable, record-breaking turnout at a recruitment event that we've ever seen.

'We are incredibly grateful to the University of Leicester and the Rik Basra Leukaemia Campaign for helping to recruit informed and committed potential lifesavers to the register".

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