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Stoke Newington woman's blood cancer plea: 'BME people need to sign up' to bone marrow donor list

PUBLISHED: 17:50 02 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:53 04 October 2019

Talia Tosun, who needs a bone marrow transplant. Picture: Talia Tosun

Talia Tosun, who needs a bone marrow transplant. Picture: Talia Tosun

Archant

A woman who has leukaemia but is unable to find a stem cell donor match is campaigning to help tackle a lack of BME people on the donor list.

Talia Tosun, 24, lives in Stoke Newington. Of Turkish-Cypriot descent, she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) in April and unfortunately, despite chemotherapy treatment in the months since, she has been told she will need a bone marrow transplant.

Talia said: "It's pretty much the only way. Initially, they tested my sister but unfortunately she wasn't a match."

If she isn't able to find a match, there's a possibility a "half-match" from one of her parents may work - but this is less likely to be successful.

The Anthony Nolan Trust frequently campaigns on the underepresentation of BME communities on the donor register.

In Talia's situation, those most likely to be a match are Turkish, Turkish Cypriot, Greek Cypriot, or Middle Eastern, aged over 16, and in good health.

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"Most days it's not great, but the treatment I am going through is manageable. I've felt better." Talia added.

"But what's shocking is that I'm a pretty socially aware person and had never heard about this being an issue before.

"Although it's a horrible situation I'm lucky enough to have lots of support."

Sarah Rogers, a register development manager at blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, said: "We urgently need more people from all minority ethnic backgrounds to register as stem cell donors to make sure that everyone, regardless of heritage, can receive a second chance at life."

She said BME patients currently have just a 20 per cent chance of "finding the best possible match".

Sarah added: "Every single person who signs up to the Anthony Nolan register has the potential to give hope to someone like Talia, who is in desperate need of a lifesaving stem cell transplant. We're particularly calling on young men aged 16 to 30 to consider joining as they provide more than 50pc of all stem cell donations but make up just 18pc of our register."

For more information about joining the bone marrow donor register, see https://www.anthonynolan.org and to help find Talia a match, visit https://itech.media/swab-for-talia.

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