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Daughter of Hampshire man with leukaemia calls for more lifesaving stem cell donors

“It is an agonising wait hoping the doctors find a matching donor, you are filled with sheer terror and desperation”

The daughter of a Hampshire man with leukaemia, is calling for more people to sign up as potential stem cell donors, with blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan. She has been told that her dad desperately needs a stem cell transplant, from an unrelated donor, if he is to be cured of his cancer. 

Mark’s daughter, Lauren, 23 said: ‘My dad, Mark Kan, is 57 years old and has recently relapsed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML).  In November 2016, after nine months of intensive chemotherapy treatment he was given the all clear and a second chance at life. Since then, he has had successful check-ups whilst being in remission. As a family we received the devastating news that his cancer had returned in June.

My dad will now need a stem cell transplant for the best chance at achieving a cure. We are all suffering from the shock of his relapse including his consultants who did not foresee this happening so far into remission.

My dad is the kindest, most loving and incredible man I know. He loves his family, friends and two newly adopted puppies from Greece. He just couldn’t say no to splitting the siblings apart!

The thought of not having him to love and hold causes me, my younger brother, my mum and his parent’s pain beyond imagination. 

So many families have to go through these types of nightmares, and I’ve prayed we would never have to re live ours. The complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic meant whilst dad was in hospital, we couldn’t see him at all. It was awful not being able to look after him or see him.

My dad has three siblings who were originally tested to see if they were a stem cell match. We were lucky enough he didn’t require a transplant in 2016 as they were not a match. The difficulty we face now finding a donor is due to our family’s mixed Chinese heritage.  

So many families have to post appeals for their loved ones, so what makes ours different? Nothing. We are in the same boat as them, incredibly vulnerable, frightened and can only use hope and the selflessness of others to keep us going.  My dad needs a helping hand to beat this disease.

He would do anything to help someone, now it’s his turn for someone to help him. 

Anthony Nolan has now jumped into action, to search their register for a stranger who could give my dad, Mark, another chance at life. Transplant recipients have a 69% chance of receiving the best possible match, however this drops dramatically to around 20% if you're from a Black, Asian or ethnic minority background.

As a family we feel completely helpless, so we want to do all we can to make people aware of the need for more stem cell donors. We know that it will help everyone on the waiting list, including my dad.’

If you are healthy and willing please sign up

Rebecca Pritchard, who leads the Register Development team at Anthony Nolan said: ‘We are doing everything we can to support Mark’s search for a matching donor, during this difficult time.

‘Every single person who signs up to the register has the potential to give hope to someone who is in desperate need of a lifesaving stem cell transplant.

‘We’re particularly calling on people from East Asian, and other minority ethnic backgrounds to consider joining the register, as well as young men aged 16–30. Young men provide more than 50% of all stem cell donations but make up just 18% of our register. Together, we can work towards a future where nobody is waiting for their match.’ 

Anthony Nolan recruits people aged 16–30 to the stem cell register as research has shown younger people are more likely to be chosen to donate.

They also carry out ground-breaking research to save more lives and provide information and support to patients after a stem cell transplant, through its clinical nurse specialists and psychologists, who help guide patients through their recovery.

To find about more about joining the Anthony Nolan register, or to find out more about the different ways you can support, please visit www.anthonynolan.org/MatchForMark 

Those aged 30-55 can visit https://www.dkms.org.uk/en

 

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