Leukaemia sufferer finds rare stem cell match
University College London student Lara Casalotti was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in December last year. She faced an uphill battle to try to find a stem cell match but thanks to a global campaign by blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, backed by such well-known people as JK Rowling and Stephen Fry, a match has now been located.
Casalotti’s family heritage made finding a match even more difficult. She has a Thai mother and an Italian father, and therefore had only a one in 25 million possibility of finding a donor. Unfortunately, none of her family members were a match.
The subsequent campaign has garnered an estimated additional 20,000 people registering to be stem cell donors. Casalotti said: “I want to keep urging people to sign up to the donor registries so that everyone can have a chance of finding their match.”
The identity of the donor cannot be revealed due to patient-donor confidentiality protocols, but the hope is that they will be able to donate their stem cells in March.
Casalotti’s mother, Supanya, said: ‘We know we have a long road ahead as a transplant is an extremely serious procedure, but knowing there is a good match for Lara is a weight off our shoulders that we desperately needed.’
Anthony Nolan also saw an unparalleled increase in new donors from black, Asian and mixed race backgrounds in the UK.
The recipient of stem cell treatment will be able to avoid a lifetime of taking anti-rejection medication if a perfect match is used. Ideally, stem cells should be removed from naturally shed teeth as this will mean the procedure is pain-free and non-invasive. If the cells can be taken from baby teeth, then this also avoids deterioration due to age or pollutants.