As part of our long-standing support of the Anthony Nolan Trust’s and DKMS stem cell register, last week the Sixth Form were invited to join the register as potential donors. The message sounded ever more powerful this time, as the call for help came from a family within the Harrow community.

Through the personal engagement of one of our students, Yash (11R2), we invited Mrs Kirpa Gudhka to address the boys in the family’s search for a stem cell donor for their young son, Veer, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder – FanAconi Anaemia. As a result, Veer’s bone marrow is not producing enough stem cells, which means that his blood cells are also on a decline. His family have been told that his best hope of survival is a blood stem cell transplant, and thus, the family must look to the stem cell register for an unrelated donor. Veer’s life is relying on the generosity of a person from anywhere in the world. The chances of a positive match are always slim and the search for a donor therefore always poses an anxious waiting period.

It is an honour for the school to support the Gudhka’s campaign and it is in moments like these that our boys so often and reliably rise to the challenge and help others in need. Indeed, it was through the outstanding initiative of Yash, who has established the contact between Family Gudhka and our school. The Gudhka’s were delighted to hear from Yash, expressing how they are eager to spread the message and raise awareness for the blood stem cell register. We are proud of the students and those who are joining the register.

Currently, only 2% of the UK’s population are registered as potential blood stem cell donors, and patients from the BAME community – like Veer – just have a 20% chance of finding a stem cell donor compared to 69% from those of a Northern European background. By diversifying the registers, their chance of survival will increase.

According to DKMS UK, every 20 minutes, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer. This diagnosis is devastating, and during the coronavirus outbreak, it is even more crucial that we do all we can to offer hope to people with blood cancer and blood disorders. The numbers of people joining the blood stem cell register has declined dramatically in recent times, and now more than ever before, we need to encourage more people to register.  

The DKMS/Anthony Nolan stem cell register is open to anyone between the ages of 16 and 55; in the spirit of Yash’s drive, we would like to encourage our boys and their families to join the register.

Registering to be a stem cell donor is extremely simple, requiring only a cheek swab. It takes just a few minutes to become a potential lifesaver – there really could not be an easier way to save lives! The Gudhkas were delighted to hear that one of the 8,000+ registrants from their campaign ended up saving someone else’s life around the world.  

For further information about Veer’s campaign and how to join the register, please click here.