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Hardip Singh Kohli backs Rik Basra bone marrow appeal

TV presenter and journalist Hardeep Singh Kohli is urging Leicester Mercury readers to sign up to the bone marrow register.

The presenter spoke out in support of a recruitment drive by blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan to add 3,000 Asian people to the database by March next year.

Leicester police officer Rik Basra, who is recovering from leukaemia after undergoing a transplant of donated blood stem cells just before Christmas last year, is the face of the charity’s campaign.

Hardeep said he wanted to urge as many people as possible to sign up to the register and potentially give another cancer sufferer the same second chance as Rik.

“The transplant was the best Christmas present he could have hoped for,” said Hardeep.

“We’re looking to recruit 3,000 more Asian donors to the register.

“It’s mad that more people aren’t signed up. You could save someone’s life simply by giving blood and spending a morning in hospital. I think if everyone knew it was that easy then so many more people would sign up.”

While the charity is always encouraging as many people as possible to sign up to the register, Asian people in particular are under-represented.

“It doesn’t seem right that just because you’re a different race, your life is more expendable,” said Hardeep.

“This is a hugely important campaign and I’m thrilled to be supporting it.”

All blood cells originate in the bone marrow from the same type of cell, called a blood stem cell.

A blood stem cell, or bone marrow, transplant can replace a damaged immune system in a person with blood cancer – but only if the donor’s cell type matches.

Tomorrow, Rik and his wife, Kas, will hold the first of a series of public events to recruit potentially life-saving blood stem cell donors to the database.

The event takes place at Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre, Rothley Street, from 5.15pm to 9pm, with another session at the same venue on Tuesday, again from 5.15pm.

Anthony Nolan spokesman Ellen Marshall said: “We’re delighted Hardeep is supporting our recruitment campaign, as we know from experience that many Asian people simply don’t know who we are or how hard it is to find a matching bone marrow donor if you’re from an Asian background – only 40 per cent will do so.

“Even those who know about our work often don’t realise what bone marrow donation actually involves, or the impact it could have for someone with blood cancer.

“That’s why Hardeep’s support is so important to us – not only does he give us vital access to the Asian audience, but also because he’s so passionate about our work, he makes people actually listen to what he’s got to say.”

Rik and Kas began urging Asian people in Leicestershire and the wider Midlands to join the Anthony Nolan register last year, when Rik was still searching for a suitable donor.

Eventually, a match for him was found in Germany.

Rik, whose successful transplant took place on Christmas Eve, said: “Medical advances make registering and donating stem cells so very simple.

“Taking just a few moments out from your day and registering can really mean the difference between life and death to someone in desperate need.

“As someone who’s been in that situation, I’m asking everyone to help if they can.”

For more information about signing up to the register, visit: www.anthonynolan.org

News Source: This is Leicester

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