Mirfield woman calls for more Asian stem cell donors to come forward after friend’s diagnosis

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

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.

Sana, who attended Cardiff University with Vithiya, now wants 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.

“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,” said Sana, of Far Common Road.

“Vithiya is a good friend of mine, and she was diagnosed with aggressive leukaemia only a few months ago. I had absolutely no idea until I read it in the news.”

National charity Anthony Nolan runs a bone marrow register through regional branch Leeds Marrow. which has signed up University of Leeds students and Bradford Grammar School pupils. The donation process is painless and short.

For more information, visit www.anthonynolan.org or to help Vithiya go to www.deletebloodcancer.org.uk/en/vithiya-needs-match.