Written for London360 in February 2016:
I went on the 31st January 2016 to help out one of my fellow reporters to the Jewish Museum in Camden, London and their exhibition on Blood. It was also where a campaign to help a Thai-Italian girl named Lara Casalotti who was diagnosed with Leukaemia find a donor match. Sadly, none of her close family and friends were a match and this led to the campaign across the globe to find one.
Due to Lara’s mixed-race heritage it was even harder to find a match and the Delete Blood Cancer charity drive at the Museum gave people an opportunity to do a swab tests. As I watched the people from the charity including some of Lara’s friends helping out, the biggest surprise was that Lara’s father Stefano Casalotti also came to see how things were going.
We were fortunate to interview him and as I listened to his story and that of Lara’s, it made me realise that people from BAME (Black Asian & Mixed Ethnic) backgrounds numbers were few when it came to being donors. It was also the day where my childhood hero Sir Terry Wogan passed away from cancer and this was a terrible shock to the system.
It also made me realise that if I have blood cancer one day and none of my close family and friends are a match who can I turn to? Would I have to reach out across the globe for help like Lara and her family? It really hit me that it could be anyone I know too and also made me wonder why aren’t people being donors?
I was very tempted to be a donor for Lara on the day but unfortunately I couldn’t due to my weight being slightly under 50 kilograms. It was the same with one of the reporters I was with who really wanted to help out. I have in the past tried to be a donor with the help of the Anthony Nolan charity during my university days but was still underweight. I personally feel that one day I can be a donor for someone who desperately needs treatment.
Finally, the upside to all of this is that recently Lara had finally found a match and I am really happy for her. I wish Lara, her family and friends all the best for the future.
During the shoot at the Jewish Museum in Camden, London
(Photo taken by Savan Gandecha)
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