Blood cancer survivor who found donor ‘at the eleventh hour’ highlights importance of stem cell donations – Leicestershire Live

Rik Basra was diagnosed with a deadly form of blood cancer in 2009, and then again in 2011.

The father of two was fortunate enough to survive the Acute Myeloid Leukaemia after a last-minute stem cell donor was found in Germany.

The stem cell transplant was successful, which meant the former Leicestershire Police employee could continue to spend time with his family.

Speaking to LeicestershireLive, he detailed his experience and stressed the importance of people joining the donor register.

He said: “I was diagnosed in 2009 originally and was cleared, but then in 2011 it came back.

“The second time I was told that I would need a stem cell transplant and without one I wouldn’t make it.

“I had actually finished my last round of chemotherapy and they couldn’t give me anymore, because it would have killed me.

“But they managed to find a donor at the 11th hour from someone in Germany.”

When the donor was found Rik and his family felt as though all their Christmases had come all at once, he said.

It wasn’t a perfect match, but it was enough to give Rik a fighting chance.

After having the stem cell transplant on Christmas Eve in 2011, Rik hasn’t had any problems since and says he has got his future back.

“I had been told to make funeral arrangements before that,” he said.

“I was shocked and actually I wanted to jump up and down in the air, it was such a surprise.

“Before that, we were just hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.

“We were hoping that some miracle could happen and it did; we got a match. And you have to remember that all those searches had taken place, so this came completely out of the blue.”

Want a free daily bulletin – plus breaking news alerts direct to your inbox? Then sign up to our email newsletter service!

All you need to do is type your email address into the ‘sign up to free daily alerts’ box. It’s at the top of this article.

It’s also on any stories on the website – simply click ‘subscribe’ and you can expect your first newsletter at the next release.

Alternatively, click here to sign up online.

Decide later that you no longer wish to receive the emails? No problem – you can just follow the unsubscribe link.

But Rik’s situation isn’t unique. He said every 14 minutes someone else is diagnosed and in need of the very same stem cell treatment that saved his life.

For some, that match is never found and the arrival of Covid-19 has only reduced the number of people ready and willing to donate.

“It’s still really important that people sign up to the register,” said Rik.

“Blood cancer doesn’t stop for Covid-19.

“You don’t have to die to donate your stem cells.

“Anyone could be diagnosed. It’s a vested interested for everyone to get involved and do something.

“All the things you take for granted, which were challenging for me, I can now do. It has saved my life and I have got my future back.

“I have two daughters and a granddaughter and I wouldn’t have known her and she wouldn’t have known me if it wasn’t for the donation.”

Since his treatment, he has set up Rik Basra Leukaemia Campaign in which he seeks to help people from all different backgrounds join the register and reassures them about any worries they may have.

Anthony Nolan is a charity that works in the areas of leukaemia and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

Since the start of the lockdown in March this year, they have seen a huge downfall in the number of donations not just in Leicester but all over the UK.

From March to August 2019, Anthony Nolan held over 300 stem cell donor recruitment events which added over 12,500 donors to the register. Since lockdown in March this year, theyve held zero.

Nearly 19,000 fewer people have joined the stem cell register so far this year compared to the same period in 2019.

In Leicester, between March and August last year, 557 people joined the Anthony Nolan register compared to just 190 between March and August this year.

Henny Braund, chief executive of Anthony Nolan, says: “Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has had a serious impact on our ability to talk to people about the Anthony Nolan register and about their life-saving potential.

“Social distancing restrictions have meant that donor recruitment events have been cancelled and we havent been able to speak to students at schools and universities like we usually would.

“This has resulted in a drop in sign-ups to the register, however transplants continue to happen around the world, which means that we still desperately need people to join the Anthony Nolan register.

“The more people join, the more opportunities are afforded to patients who urgently need treatment. We are particularly calling on young men aged 16-30 to join, as they are the most likely to be chosen to donate.”

Joining the register is easy and it can be done online.

If you wish to sign up to the register and help to save lives by donating your stem cells, you can do so by clicking here.

Read the original here:
Blood cancer survivor who found donor ‘at the eleventh hour’ highlights importance of stem cell donations – Leicestershire Live