By Davina Hyde
A mum has spoken out about the need for awareness of blood stem cell donors.
Single mum Praxedes Garcia, of Peterborough Road, Fulham, has two daughters, Maxima, 12 and Olimpia, 10.
She was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia after initially experiencing seasonal flu-like symptoms and several visits to her GP.
She was told initially that after three phases of chemotherapy the only thing that could save her life was to find a “genetic twin” in a blood stem cell donor.
She was unable to find a 100 per cent match, but was able to have a transplant from a direct cousin, who was only a 50 per cent match.
Praxedes, 44, said: “When you are going through this kind of condition, in my case a very aggressive form of blood cancer, the last thing you want, when you find out the only cure for your disease is a stem cell donor, is for you then to realise there are not enough people on the register.
“I have been lucky that I have found a donor, although it is not a 100 per cent match. I had a transplant on August 11, and so far, my body has accepted the transplant.
“We need more people to register, it is never enough, we always need more people.
“Many families are anxious because they are not finding the match for a relative, or someone they love.
“People are not aware of this condition and how easy it is to help and save someone’s life.”
Only one in three people with blood cancer, and in need of a transplant, will find a matching blood stem cell donor within their own family. Two out of three will have to look elsewhere.
Although South Londoners have a better take-up than the rest of the country, the Blood Cancer Charity DKMS is urging more people to register.
Blood is taken from one of the donor’s arms and a machine extracts the blood stem cells from it. The donor’s blood is then returned to them through their other arm.
If you are aged between 17 and 55, and in general good health, you can sign up for a home swab kit online here dkms.org.uk/bcam2020
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