Donor plea targets students
Students are to be enlisted to a police officer's campaign to add thousands of young people to a national register of potentially life-saving transplant donors.
The campaign by Leicestershire police officer Rik Basra, who is recovering after transplant surgery, and his wife, Kas, aims to help Anthony Nolan add 3,000 Asian donors to its database by March.
The database matches donors with those in need of a blood stem cell or, in some cases, a bone marrow transplant. People can sign up as potential donors at the age of 16.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby and his team have agreed to link up with the Basra campaign to find ways of encouraging young people in the city and county to come forward.
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Deputy mayor Rory Palmer said: "We'll be doing everything we can to help them contact the city's students and get some momentum behind the campaign. Young people will want to do what they can."
The family held a recruitment event during Sunday's Diwali celebrations in Belgrave. A total of 67 people signed up as potential donors.
Kas said: "We are determined to help Anthony Nolan reach the target of 3,000 and I'm sure we can do it – especially now Sir Peter Soulsby has said he'll help us reach the students.
"The schools, colleges and universities could be a really important part of this campaign."
Leicester community radio station Sabras Sound is also throwing its weight behind the couple's campaign, she said.
Laura Taylor, 17, of Braunstone was among those who signed up on Sunday.
She said: "People should know about this and should do their best to help."
Erin Rai, 16, also from Braunstone, said: "It's amazing that you could save someone's life."
Narinder Singh, 26, of Oadby, said: "I will be spreading the word among my friends and I'll be telling them how easy and important it is."
The Basras' efforts over the past year have added more than 1,000 Asians, mostly from Leicestershire and the wider Midlands, to the register.
Last week, the Mercury reported Rik has been taken off all of the drugs which have been protecting him from infection since he had transplant surgery in December.
The couple began urging Asian people in Leicestershire and the wider Midlands to join the Anthony Nolan register last year, when Rik was still desperately searching for a suitable stem cell donor.
Eventually, a match for him was found in Germany, and the officer had a transplant of the donated cells in December.
The next recruitment event will be at Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre, Rothley Street, on Tuesday, November 13, between 5.30pm and 9pm.
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