Lauren Kan, 23, talked to us about her father, Mark, who is looking for a blood stem cell donor and a second chance at life:
“My Dad, Mark Kan, is 57 years old and has recently relapsed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. In November 2016, after nine months of intensive chemotherapy treatment he was given the all clear. Since then, he has had successful check-ups whilst being in remission. As a family we received the devastating news that his cancer had returned in June.
My Dad will now need a blood stem cell transplant for the best chance at achieving a cure. We are all suffering from the shock of his relapse including his consultants who did not foresee this happening so far into remission.
My Dad is the kindest, most loving and incredible man I know. He loves his family, friends and two newly adopted puppies from Greece. He just couldn’t say no to splitting the siblings apart!
The thought of not having him to love and hold causes me, my younger Brother and my Mum pain beyond imagination.
So many families have to go through these types of nightmares, and I’ve prayed we would never have to re live ours. The complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic meant whilst Dad was in hospital, we couldn’t see him at all. It was awful not being able to look after him or see him.
My Dad has three siblings who have been tested to see if they could donate their blood stem cells to him, but unfortunately they are not a match. This means we are now looking for an unrelated donor, but this is particularly difficult due to our family’s mixed Chinese heritage. Transplant recipients have a 69% chance of finding a match, however this drops dramatically to around 20% if you're from a Black, Asian or ethnic minority background. So many families have to post appeals for their loved ones, so what makes ours different? Nothing. We are in the same boat as them, incredibly vulnerable, frightened and can only use hope and the selflessness of others to keep us going. My Dad needs a helping hand to beat this disease.
He would do anything to help someone, now it’s his turn for someone to help him.
As a family we feel completely helpless, so we want to do all we can to make people aware of the need for more blood stem cell donors. We know that it will help everyone on the waiting list, including my Dad. It is completely agonising waiting and hoping the doctors find a matching donor; we are filled with sheer terror and desperation.”
We are particularly calling on people from East Asian, and other minority ethnic backgrounds to consider joining the register. In doing so you may save Mark’s life.
Every 20 minutes, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer. This diagnosis is devastating, and during the corona virus outbreak, it is even more crucial that we do all we can to offer hope to people with blood cancer and blood disorders. We have seen the numbers of people joining the blood stem cell register decline dramatically in recent times, and now, more than ever before, we need you to sign up. For many, a blood stem cell donation is their best chance of recovery and only 30% of people find a match within their family. This means the remainder will need to find an anonymous blood stem cell donor, and that could be you.
A note about Coronavirus
We understand there are lots of worries and concerns around coronavirus and would like to reassure you that it is completely safe to request and send in your swabs.
If you're a match
If you are identified as a match, you will donate in one of two ways. In the majority of cases this is via a process called “Peripheral Blood Stem Cell collection”, which is a little like giving blood. In 10% of cases, the stem cells are taken from your bone marrow, under general anaesthetic. The method of donation is chosen by the patients team based on what is most suitable for them.
Together we will beat blood cancer.
To register as a blood stem cell donor, you need to be between 17-55, in general good health and not registered with another donor centre. To check your eligibility and request your swab kit, follow the link below.
It costs us £40 to register a new donor on the UK stem cell registry. As a charity, we rely on monetary donations from the public to help cover this cost and greatly appreciate any contribution, no matter how big or small.
If you are unable to register as a potential donor, we would be very grateful if you could consider making a contribution towards the cost of a registration.