Appeal for donors from ethnic minorities in bid to help leukaemia stricken friend

A Mirfield graduate whose friend has been diagnosed with aggressive leukaemia is calling for more people from ethnic minority backgrounds to donate stem cells.

Vithiya Alphons.

Sana Abubaker’s student housemate Vithiya Alphons, 24, is fighting an aggressive form of the blood cancer and her Sri Lankan heritage has made it difficult to find a transplant match in the UK.

A social media campaign to help her find a match as soon as possible has been seen all over the world, with more than 5,600 people so far signing up.

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Sana, who attended Cardiff University with Miss Alphons, is hoping to raise awareness of the shortage of South Asian and Afro-Caribbean donors, who make up only six per cent of those registered.

Stem cell donations work on an ancestry basis, meaning that sufferers will only have a chance of survival if they find stem cells from those of similar racial background.

Sana said: “Finding out that a family member or a friend has leukaemia is one of the hardest things to deal with, which is why I felt compelled to help out.”

The Anthony Nolan charity’s regional student branch, Leeds Marrow, has signed up dozens of Leeds students to help Miss Alphons who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in October.

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