British Asians look to India for bone marrow donors

October 21st, 2008 - 1:04 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 21 (IANS) British Asian health groups are now searching for bone marrow donors from India.The move follows the realisation that it is getting difficult for British Asians suffering from leukaemia and other rare blood diseases to get donors with matching tissues within Britain.

Anthony Nolan Trust, a leading British bone marrow charity, has said while there are 75 percent chances of a white patient awaiting bone marrow transplant to find a matching donor in Britain, chances of a British Asian finding a matching donor are less than 25 percent.

Figures from the trust reveal that of the 350,000 registered bone marrow donors in Britain, just three percent are Asian.

The trust has tied up with another charity, the African and Caribbean Leukaemia Trust, to draw more donors from the ethnic minorities in Britain.

Simultaneously, a campaign is being planned to register donors from India. The drive will encourage Indian haematologists to start a register of volunteer donors in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.

K. Ghosh has been identified as the points person for the donor drive in Mumbai. He is quoted by BBC News as saying that the initial focus will be on Mumbai which will then spread to smaller towns.

BBC News has reported about the case of a patient, Dean Sheikh, who desperately needs a bone marrow transplant but is unable to find a donor in Britain. His mother, Farah, is quoted as bitterly complaining that the Asian community is less aware of the need for donors in such cases.

Azra Iqbal, the donor recruitment manager for ethnic minorities at the Anthony Nolan Trust, says: “It’s a culture thing in the South Asian community. They don’t associate hospitals with doing something good, they associate them with illness.”

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