#CureKaiya event recruits 220 students to the Anthony Nolan stem cell donor register
Students at The University of Warwick held an event to recruit potential stem cell donors to the Anthony Nolan register on Thursday 17 May – in support of the granddaughter of a West Midlands couple who was recently diagnosed with blood cancer.
Five-year-old Kaiya, whose grandparents Ramesh and Shobhna Patel live in Coventry, loves winning races at sports day, enjoys swimming and gymnastics. But after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), she had to put many of her favourite things on hold because she needs a lifesaving stem cell transplant from a stranger within the next few months.
Warwick Marrow, volunteers with blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, sprang into action with support from the university’s Asian Society, to organise the event, attended by Kaiya’s paternal grandparents and cousin. The event saw 220 potential lifesavers join the Anthony Nolan register to bring hope to patients, like Kaiya, in need of a stem cell transplant.
Kaiya’s grandfather, Ramesh, said: ‘I used to think that only God had the power to give life or take it away, but I've now realised that anyone can potentially give life by joining the stem cell register.’
Kaiya’s cousin Karvan said: ‘I had a great day – all of the Warwick Marrow students are so committed! It was amazing to see, and we are all very grateful and amazed at the turn out. I’m a student at Nottingham University and am planning to volunteer with Nottingham Marrow.’
Beth Vincent, President of student volunteer group Warwick Marrow, said, ‘We want to say a big thank you to every single student who signed up to the register at our event. What many people don’t realise is how simple it is to join the register. The first step is to fill out a form and swab your cheek.’
Warwick Marrow has been working with Anthony Nolan to help recruit young donors onto the world’s first stem cell register of unrelated donors since 2013 and have signed up more than 1450 potential lifesavers. Given her Indian heritage, Kaiya’s donor will most likely be found in the wider South Asian community, but her family are urging all who can, to sign up.
Charlotte Cunliffe, Marrow Programme Lead at Anthony Nolan, said, ‘It’s amazing to see what Warwick Marrow students have achieved - their efforts are invaluable for our work delivering lifesaving transplants for people, like Kaiya, with blood cancer.
‘All students are welcome to join the register, but only one in five transplant recipients from a Black, Asian or ethnic minority background receive the best possible match. If you’re aged 16-30 and are healthy please consider joining our register. You will offer hope to Kaiya, and other patients searching for a suitable match.’