Young people and death

I mentioned last week about Tracey, the De Montfort University girl, who’s dying of leukaemia. Today I visited a bone marrow registration session, where hundreds of black students – the donor has to be of the same ethnic background as the recipient – gave a sample of their blood to see if they matched.

For some reason people of African heritage are much more reluctant to come forward to be a potential bone marrow donor but Tracey’s story had clearly hit home.

One 18-year-old boy, from one of Leicester’s most deprived areas, provided me with one of those small moments in life that make you happy.

Full of bravado in front of his friends, and wearing clothing that would doubtless frighten many a granny in the street, he admitted to me he was scared of needles, from a culture, he said, that was not in favour of blood donation, and he’s never met Tracey. He said: “When I heard I just had to come. I just thought, what would I do if this was my sister?”

Whenever I go to schools I’m told the media aren’t interested in the good things that young people do. That’s rubbish. Getting that message across is the single most difficult thing about my job.

About Ian

A journalist working in Brussels
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2 Responses to Young people and death

  1. Ross Grant says:

    I am not sure you are right about the ethnic match needing to be identical, I believe it is the case that the chances of a match are considerably higher though and Tracey’s chances are greatly increased by signing up more donors.

    I have been on the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register since the mid 90’s. Once you are on the register you wait until they think you may be a possible match in which case further matching takes place. This happened to me after a couple of years, but I was not required to donate bone marrow on that occasion and I still haven’t been called on. All that has happened is a few blood tests, no more than you might get for a host of minor medical complaints.

    I would encourage everyone interested to check out http://www.anthonynolan.org.uk/donating/howtojointheregister/

    As Ian has said, just think “What if it was my Sister?”

  2. Ian says:

    Thanks for the clarificaton Ross.

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