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Press Release

LIFESAVERS WANTED: Mother’s Plea for People to Register as Potential Blood Stem Cell Donors
Press release date07/01/2019
Mother of two, Meena Kumari-Sharma, 41, originally from Leicester, was diagnosed with two forms of leukaemia last March. Meena is urgently searching for her lifesaver and is appealing for people in the local area to register as a potential blood stem cell donor with DKMS, a blood cancer charity.
Press release

Mother of two, Meena Kumari-Sharma, 41, originally from Leicester, was diagnosed with two forms of leukaemia last March. Meena is urgently searching for her lifesaver and is appealing for people in the local area to register as a potential blood stem cell donor with DKMS, a blood cancer charity.

DKMS is holding a registration event, on Wednesday 16 January 2019, at the Leicester Royal Infirmary Hospital in L’Eat restaurant, from 8am – 3pm. The charity is encouraging hospital staff and visitors aged between 17-55 and in general good health to attend and register as a potential lifesaver. 

Months before being diagnosed Meena had started to feel dizzy and was originally diagnosed with 

mild sickness. Following a car accident Meena’s health started to deteriorate with consistent back pains and headaches but she put this down to whiplash. It become so bad that she eventually visited A&E where additional testing took place.

It was revealed that Meena had leukaemia and she had to start treatment including blood transfusions and several rounds of chemotherapy. Now Meena has been told that she urgently needs a blood stem cell donation from someone with a matching tissue-type for her best chance of survival.

Due to her British-Indian (Punjabi) background it makes the search to find a matching donor even harder. Patients from black, Asian or other minority backgrounds only have a 20% chance of finding the best possible stem cell donor match, compared to 69% for northern European backgrounds.

There is a lack of black, Asian and mixed race donors on the registry with only 13.1% currently registered as a blood stem cell donor. Despite a global search, sadly a matching donor has not yet been found. The blood cancer charity DKMS is supporting Meena  to help find a donor for her and others seeking matching donors.

Meena said: “My world was turned upside down when I was diagnosed with leukaemia. I just kept thinking that they had made a huge mistake. 

“After the initial diagnosis I faced the agonising decision of where to receive my treatment. I’m originally from Leicester but had roots in St Albans. After realising I would soon be spending the best part of a year in hospital and realistically I wouldn’t be able to look after my children. I made the heartbreaking decision to move back to Leicester, so I could be surrounded by family, focus fully on getting better and being part of my children’s lives again.

“We’ve been working tirelessly to encourage more people to register as blood stem cell donors and we’re grateful that we’re able to spread the important message through the drive at the hospital. This is the hospital were I was born and now I’m currently receiving my treatment – so it means a lot. I would urge to people to take that first step in becoming a potential lifesaver.”

It takes minutes to register - those attending the event will be asked to fill in a form and provide a few cheeks swabs and then they will go on standby to give someone a second chance at life. If you’re identified as a match for someone there are two ways to donate - 90% of blood stem cell donations in the UK are made via a peripheral blood stem cell collection, a method similar to giving blood. The remaining 10% donate through a bone marrow collection (collected from the back of the pelvic bone under general anaesthetic).

Lisa Nugent, Head of Donor Recruitment at DKMS UK said: “Please spare the time to attend the event and help find a matching donor for Meena or someone else in need of a blood stem cell transplant. By doing this selfless act and registering as a potential lifesaver you’ll go on standby to save the life of someone just like you. If you can’t make the donor drive and aged between 17-55 you can register online for a home swab kit at dkms.org.uk.” 

To register one potential blood stem cell donor it costs £40. DKMS relies on monetary donations to help cover this cost. Whilst the NHS is very supportive, it falls to charities like us to reach out to those lifesavers - please support us in registering more potential lifesavers and donate online. 

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Notes to Editor:

About DKMS

  • DKMS is a global not for profit organisation that started in Germany in 1991 around one family’s search for a donor. Dr. Peter Harf founded DKMS in honour of his wife Mechtild, who had sadly lost her battle with blood cancer. Peter promised his wife to help every blood cancer patient searching for a matching donor.
  • Today, DKMS operates in Germany, USA, Poland, Chilie and the UK. 
  • DKMS is dedicated to the fight against blood cancer through recruiting stem cell donors and providing second chances at life; creating awareness of blood disorders and raising funds to match donor registration costs.
  • To date, DKMS has registered over 8 million potential blood stem cell donors worldwide. Over 70,000 people around the world have received a potentially lifesaving blood stem cell donation through DKMS.
  • In the UK, DKMS has registered over 400,000 blood stem cell donors to date and helped to give over 600 people a second chance at life. 
  • DKMS launched in the UK in 2013. DKMS is the trading name of DKMS Foundation, a registered charity in England and Wales (1150056) and Scotland (SC046917). DKMS is a limited company registered in England and Wales (08151279).


Blood stem cell donation

  • To be considered a match, the donor and patient must share similar tissue characteristics. 
  • If you match with someone who needs a blood stem cell donation, the two methods through which blood stem cells are collected are either: a donation of peripheral stem cells collected via  the  blood  stream (around 90 per cent of donations are made this way) or a donation of bone marrow collected from the back of the pelvic bone.
  • Every 20 minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer like leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma (Cancer Research UK, 2014). 
  • At any one time there are around 2,000 people in the UK in need of a blood stem cell transplant.
  • Only one in three people with a blood cancer (and in need of a transplant) will find a matching blood stem cell donor within their own family. The remaining two out of three people have to rely on a match from an unrelated donor.


Contact information:
Contact information
For further information on DKMS please contact Nigel Gordon, PR and Communications Officer on 020 8747 5687 or email Nigel.Gordon@dkms.org.uk

Please contact Kim Salt, Communications Officer at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust on 0116 258 8644 / 07950 881 532.
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