Inayah is proof Asian’s can Help Save Lives

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Asians urged to join Bone Marrow Register and help others like Inayah

A BIRMINGHAM youngster can look back on her short life and say thanks to an Asian bone marrow donor who helped save her life.

Inayah Bhatti, 7, was a recipient of an Asian bone marrow when she was just 6 months old.

The youngster was born with Osteopetrosis, a rare bone disease which can also lead to blindness and deafness.

When her parents proved to be unsuccessful matches, the family turned to the Bone Marrow Register where a match was found.

Although Inayah has a severe visual impairment, the operation was a success and today the youngster is a picture of health.

But while things turned out well for Inayah, for many others in the Asian community finding the right donor match is proving difficult.

Statistics show People from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities can wait significantly longer for a bone marrow transplant and in many cases patients die waiting as a match is never found.

In a new campaign the Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is urging blood donors from the Black and Asian communities to give an extra blood sample at their next session and join the British Bone Marrow Registry.

And it’s a call being echoed by Menaz Bhatti – mum to young Inayah.

“Me and my husband both wanted to donate to our daughter, but we weren’t a match so we had to turn to the Bone Marrow Register,” said Menaz.

“She was lucky enough to get a match from an Asian donor, but so many people from our community are not so lucky. A lot of Asians I have spoken to generally agree with bone marrow donation, but rarely get round to actually signing up. I would encourage everyone from black and Asian backgrounds to seriously think about signing up and help save someone’s life, like Inayah was helped.”

Diseases like Sickle Cell and Thalassemia are prevalent in BME communities and those with the most serious symptoms may need a bone marrow transplant. This is when people most in need will rely on individuals from their own communities to step forward and donate.

In about 30% of cases, a matched donor can be found from within the patient’s family. The other 70% of patients have to rely on a matched volunteer donor, identified through the BBMR and patients from BME communities have to wait longer to find a match. 

Theo Clarke, Lead Donor Relations Manager for BME and Special Projects said; “People from the Black and Asian communities are incredibly under represented on the BBMR, yet the best chance of someone receiving a match, beyond their immediate family members, is from within their own community. Patients from BME communities have up to 30% less chance of finding a match for a bone marrow transplant. So it’s vital that more people from these communities sign up to improve these patients’ chances of finding a suitable life-saving match.”

To join the BBMR you must be aged between 18 and 49 years old (registered before your 50th birthday) and be a blood donor. You can join when you next give blood, or at the same time as your first donation. Mention you wish to join the register prior to donating and, at the time of your blood donation, we will take an extra blood sample, so that we can identify your tissue type for the registry.

The BBMR works closely with the Anthony Nolan to find the best match for a patient in the UK.

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