Appeal for donor to save life of Belsize Park cancer patient, 24
PUBLISHED: 13:56 08 January 2016 | UPDATED: 14:34 08 January 2016
The family of a student with leukaemia given until April to find a bone marrow match has launched an appeal to find a lifesaving donor.
Lara Casalotti, 24, who is of Chinese-Thai and Italian descent, desperately needs to find a suitable donor.
Ms Casalotti, from Belsize Park, described by her family as “passionate about human rights and working on refugee issues”, is undergoing chemotherapy at University College Hospital after falling ill in Thailand while volunteering with refugees in December.
Doctors have said that Ms Casalotti’s best chance of a match is with an Asian-European donor, but only three per cent of those on the worldwide stem cell registry are of mixed race.
Her family is now calling for more people spread the message and join the British Bone Marrow Registry or the Delete Blood Cancer Now charity.
Ms Casalotti – whose love of volunteering has led her to work with the UN and Human Rights Watch – went to school at South Hampstead High School, attended Bristol University, and was partway through a Masters degree when she became ill.
Her brother, Sebi Casalotti, who discovered yesterday that he was not a genetic match, said: “If we had had some luck this would all have been easy and I would have been a match.
“But unfortunately we can’t always be a donor for the people we care most.”
He added: “Through all of the volunteering that Lara does, she has always been a bit of a walking guilt trip for me, making me feel like I ought to do more.
“So that’s why we’re appealing to anyone, especially those of mixed race, to do something as easy as spitting in a cup to potentially help people like Lara and others in future.”
Urging the public to join the bone marrow registry, Ms Casalotti’s father, Stefano Casalotti, said: “Doctors, nurses and scientists are trying their best to cure this disease, but we know for the next ten or 20 years, we will still need stem cells or transplants as part of the treatment. So really this is an appeal to everyone.”
Within a day the appeal has received support from Tulip Siddiq, MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, who urged her Twitter followers to spread the message.
A website, match4lara.com, has been set up to help the campaign.