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Search for life-saving donor widens
THEY were there to try to save one woman’s life. And in doing so, 40 people in Oxford showed they had heart. A sign-up session for bone marrow donors at the Oxford Jewish Centre in Richmond Road was organised by Caroline Berger, from Oxford, who is trying to help her 61-year-old mother, Sharon Berger, who has leukaemia.
She needs a bone marrow transplant, but the chance of finding a match is 1,000-1, and doctors have given her just five weeks to find a successful match.
The challenge is even greater as ideally they need a genetic match, and Mrs Berger is Jewish, of Russian and Eastern European descent.
Miss Berger, 31, who works in media and communications at Oxfam in Oxford, said: “Finding a match would be like winning the lottery.
“I am hoping that we might have won the lottery today.”
Mrs Berger, who lives in London, has been ill with a blood disorder called myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) for the last six years.
But over Christmas it developed into leukaemia.
Since Miss Berger began her campaign after Christmas, the number of people signing the blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan bone marrow register each week has trebled nationally.
In the last month alone, 1,000 extra people have signed up as a result of Miss Berger’s campaign.
On Sunday, around 40 people turned up to join the register.
Of those people, 20 would actually be able to donate, either because of existing or previous medical conditions, or age restrictions. Donors must be between 16 and 30.
Saliva was taken and will now be sent off and tested. If there is a chance there could be a match, the donors will be asked to go in for further tests.
The initial test results can take a couple of days to come back.
Sunday’s event was run by a group of Oxford University medical students, on behalf of blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan.
Fifth-year student Holly Harris, 22, joined the register.
She said: “It is a really important thing to do and it is easy. You could save someone’s life in half an hour.”
Miss Berger got in touch with the group just two weeks ago to ask if they could help.
Bone marrow contains stem cells, which can be used to help treat leukaemia.
There are two ways a donation can be made.
One way is to give a blood sample, from which stem cells can be extracted.
The other way is to have a needle injected into the pelvis to directly extract the marrow under general anaesthetic.
For more information go to anthonynolan.org