According to the International Bone Marrow Donor Center DKMS, the number of donors in the UK stem cell registry has decreased by 62% from 2019 to 2021.
The agency, which has registered more than 857,000 blood stem cell donors in the country, says Covid The numbers have dropped sharply since the epidemic began, with 28% in 2020 and 47% in 2021.
Every 20 minutes in the UK, when someone is diagnosed with blood cancer, around 2,000 people are looking for a life saver at any given time.
“There are three million registered people in the UK, millions worldwide,” explained Reshna Radiven, DKMS’s chief communications officer.
Read more: People have been asked to register as blood stem cell donors after halving sign-ups.
“We had a really good year in 2019, the best year for DKMS in the UK, where we registered around 250,000 donors. The following year, despite the epidemic, we were able to register 170,000 donors, and then in the last few years, we have registered less than half of that.
“We’re seeing the possibility of registering around 50,000 donors this year, which is really a big concern for us because we have to continue to register donors to make sure there are enough people available to be a suitable match for anyone who needs a grant.” Radiven said while talking on a grant drive to find a match for nine-year-old Zara Kundra, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in October 2019.
Although initially battling cancer, in March 2022, Zara’s family received devastating news that her AML had returned.
“Her blood count is very low as a result of chemotherapy. White blood cells are low, immunity is very low, and he has not eaten for a long time. He is on the nutrition line because he is not able to eat or digest. He has been ill for the last few days, ”Zara’s father Bikash Kundra told Sky News.
“Fever, pain, vomiting … you name it, he’s got it right now because he has no cells to fight right now.” Zara’s mother Taruna Jindal Kundra added
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“To save his life he has to find a blood stem cell donor,” Mr Kundra said, explaining that South Asians are under-represented in the register.
“It is much more difficult to find suitable donors for patients of different ethnic backgrounds.”
More than 100 people from South Asian backgrounds took part in the donor event
A total of 150 people from South Asian backgrounds gathered at the Reading event where DKMS signed up new donors.
“If someone needs a stem cell donation, the first step is to search the global register. This is only to the point where there is a confirmation that no concomitant stem cell donor is available so we have to carry out this process, ”said Mr Kundra.
“The family is really desperate to find a donor, so we’re here today to find someone from the South Asian community who can be a close match for them.”
Currently, only 2% of the UK population is registered as a potential blood stem cell donor, and only 13% of those registered come from a minority ethnic background.
This means that patients in that community are less likely to find a combined blood stem cell donor.
They are twice as likely to find donors as the white population.