Give every mother the chance to save people like Ruby with cord blood donation.
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Last year, my friend Ruby cancelled a playdate between my daughter and her two children because she felt unwell and needed to see the GP about a worrying lump. That lump turned out to be a complex form of blood cancer and now, within 3 months, Ruby is desperately searching for a stem cell donor to save her life.
The more people that register to donate, the higher the chance those like my friend Ruby have to find a match and survive. We learnt that there’s a really easy way to donate stem cells by giving away umbilical cords after childbirth.
Only 6 hospitals offer this service to donate through the NHS and the charity Anthony Nolan offer collection at 4 additional hospitals. This can save a person’s life but not enough people know that they can do this. That’s why I’m calling for more awareness and opportunities to donate umbilical cords.
Ruby, 37, is from El Salvador via Australia and now lives and works as a social worker in London. Since being diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Lympho-Leukaemia, she’s soldiered through two rounds of intensive chemotherapy in hospital.
At times she has been separated from her children because of the risk of toddler colds to her compromised immune system – she heard her daughter Sofia, who was one in February, say ‘Mama’ for the first time through Facetime.
One hospital that lets you donate is Barnet General and is local to me. I gave birth to my daughter at another hospital because I wasn't made aware that cord blood donation was possible. Had I known, I would have chosen to do so especially now seeing my friend fight for her life. It hurts to know that we missed such an easy chance to potentially save a life.
Many of Ruby's friends and family have become parents recently and we were all astonished at how little cord blood donation is publicised and offered to new mothers. There are hundreds of thousands of wasted opportunities for those desperately searching right now.
Sadly, Ruby is not alone. Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with blood cancer and 2,000 people a year will need a life saving stem cell or bone marrow donation from a stranger.
It is even harder for those like Ruby from diverse backgrounds to find a match. Ruby is passionate about letting people know about the lack of diversity on the register and improving the chances of all people.
We call on the NHS and Central Government to increase the opportunities for (and education around) donating cord blood to help people with blood disorders so that people like my friend Ruby have a chance of survival.
Support Ruby, Sam, Daniel and Sofia at www.registerforruby.com
Facebook Page : 'Register for Ruby'
Google Search: 'Register for Ruby'
You can also quickly and easily register to go on the database for donation yourself as an adult (if between 17-55 and in relatively good health) at DKMS. www.dkms.org.uk
Please read, register and share.
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