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ASTRID WANTS TO LIVE AND SEE HER SONS GROW UP – URGENT SEARCH FOR STEM CELL DONORS
Preparations for donor registration event are in full swing
Astrid suffers from blood cancer. A stem cell transplant is her only chance of survival. Anyone who is healthy and between 18-50 years old, can help by registering as a potential stem cell donor on Saturday, 4th of May, in Enugu and Abuja, and on 11th of May in Lagos, with the Bone Marrow Registry Nigeria (BMRN). Registration only takes only a few minutes, does not hurt and involves no costs for anyone who signs up.
At the end of September 2018, Astrid went to the doctor for a sore throat. The doctor prescribed rest and medication but over the weekend her condition worsened. “I had a fever, felt weak and my gums were badly inflamed,” said Astrid. She had her blood tested. The results were a complete shock: she was diagnosed with blood cancer. Astrid immediately started chemotherapy. In order to have hope of life, the mother of two sons, urgently needs a matching stem cell donor.
However, the search for her genetic twin is very difficult. The chances of finding this match is 1:100 000 and the best chance of a match is within your same ethnic background. There is only a 25% chance that a sibling will be a match. The remaining 75% chance depends on an unrelated matching donor being found.
“Mixed origin patients around the world are at a disadvantage due to the underrepresentation in the global donor pool, we need to change this“ said Astrid. Astrid is of Nigerian-German descent.
Together with BMRN, Astrid’s family and friends are
organizing donor drive registration events in Nigeria. Increasing the number of
donors from Nigeria is crucial to significantly improving the situation of
Nigerian blood cancer patients and patients like Astrid, who are of mixed
origin. Astrid appeals to the population: “more people of mixed origin
need to be motivated to register as donors as blood cancer can effect anyone.
Because of my genetic makeup, my chance of finding a matching donor makes it even
more difficult. The thought that I might not be able to see my sons grow up is
unbearable for me.”
The life-threatening illness is not the first stroke of fate the family has had to cope with. Her husband Florian was paralyzed in a traffic accident in 2014. Astrid’s friends describe her as an incredibly positive and strong woman. She urgently needs the support of the entire population to register as potential stem cell donors for her and others living with blood cancers.
A blood stem cell transplant as it is more commonly known today, is essentially a procedure where a person’s defective cells in their bone marrow is replaced by healthy ones from their donor. For the donor, it involves a fairly painless procedure that can take up to 6 hours, which is very similar to donating platelets and with no major side effects.
The BMRN is calling on individuals between the ages of 18-45 years, in general good health with a weight of more than 50kgs and a BMI of less than 40 to register as donors. Registration is quick and easy: after filling out a consent form, a cheek swab is taken from the donor using cotton swabs so that the tissue characteristics can be determined in the laboratory.
Donors who have already registered in the past do not have to register again. Once registered, their data will be available to patients worldwide until they turn 61 years.
Since the date for the registration event has been set, Astrid’s family and friends have been working round the clock to make this drive successful.
If you are willing to consider helping anyone in need of a transplant for whom you might be a match, come and register in person at our drive. The process will take less than 10 minutes of your time.
If you’re interested to register, please refrain from consuming any food, chewing gum and beverages for an hour before coming through to register.
Everyone involved agrees on one thing: “What are ten minutes of your time for a cheek swab if you can give hope of life to someone!”
On October 28, 2017, 155 Nigerians registered as stem cell donors in simultaneous donor drives in Abuja, Lagos and Enugu. This successful collaboration involved several organizations, including:
- Samira Sanusi Sickle Cell Foundation
- Haima Health Initiative
- Bone Marrow Registry in Nigeria
We are very excited by this successful day of drives, and look forward to holding many more!
When Seun Adebiyi was diagnosed with leukemia, he realized that it was not going to be easy to find treatment, tells NPR’s Michel Martin
On February 24, 2012, the BMRN held a ceremony to celebrate the launch of the Registry, and to educate members of the UNTH community about stem cell transplants. The launch was a wonderful success, and many distinguished guests were in attendance.