An Indian-origin boy has inspired a huge surge in bone marrow donation in the United Kingdom after his parents launched a campaign to find a life-saving donor for the two-year-old suffering from a rare type of blood cancer.
There has been a 20-fold increase in the number of Asian donors after parents of Gaurav Bains launched a public appeal in September after failing to find a match within their family.
The boy from the West Midlands region was diagnosed in June with a rare blood disorder called Monosomy 7, a rare type of leukaemia.
“When we were told that there was a matching donor, we just couldn’t believe it. If I could, I would go to meet Gaurav’s donor right now and give them the biggest hug in the world,” said the boy’s father, Sunny.
The family used social media to find a donor and even arranged giant billboards in cities across Britain, urging people to come forward. Their cause was also taken up by the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
As a result, there has been a huge increase in the number of Asians applying to donate bone marrow.
More than 3,000 Asian people have applied to join the blood cancer charity, Anthony Nolan Register, compared to 150 people in the same period last year.
“The campaign was never just about finding a donor for Gaurav. It was about ensuring that there will be matching donors for years to come – for our children’s families and grandchildren’s families,” said Sunny.
“Asian patients in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant still have just a 40 per cent chance of finding a match,” said Bhaveshree Chandegra, the Asian recruitment manager at Anthony Nolan.
“It is so important that more Asian people sign up as bone marrow donors so that we can help more people like Gaurav in the future and so that no family has to go through an agonising wait to find out if they have a match,” Ms Chandegra said.