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Match4Lara campaign: Brother says it could ‘make a difference around the world’

PUBLISHED: 14:53 18 January 2016 | UPDATED: 16:18 18 January 2016

Lara Casalotti

Lara Casalotti

Archant

The brother of seriously ill Lara Casalotti wants his sister’s story to help change health inequalities around the world.

Lara spent Chrismas being treated in hospitalLara spent Chrismas being treated in hospital

Speaking to the Ham&High, Seb Casalotti said: “The story starts with Lara but this is an opportunity for us to do something much bigger and make a difference all around the world.”

Lara, from Belsize Park, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in December and is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant.

As Lara, 24, awaits a match her family has set up the Match4Lara campaign to raise awareness of the under-representation of ethnic minorities on transplant lists.

As Lara is half Thai and half Italian, it is difficult to find a match. Currently mixed race donors make up just three per cent of the bone marrow register.

Lara Casalotti with her familyLara Casalotti with her family

Seb, 20, said: “This campaign is not just about Lara, or about getting thousands more statistics on the donor register. It is about reducing global health inequalities.

“In the UK we have the facilities that make it easy to donate but in other parts of the world, for example Thailand, they don’t have such facilities.

“The donations can be transported across the world so by signing up here, you could be saving someone’s life in a really underdeveloped part of the world.

“We want to have more diversity and people from all ethnic backgrounds. This is part of a much wider issue.”

The campaign was set up by Lara’s cousins who collectively span four continents.

They now plan to hold awareness events and intend to bring the issue to Parliament to encourage the Health Secretary to discuss it.

Lara is a keen activist and has worked with the Red Cross and young asylum seekers.

When she fell ill, she was studying for a masters in Global Migration at University College London.

She said: “All my friends and family have been amazingly supportive. It is quite surreal how fast the message has spread and keeps on spreading!

“I really can’t express how touched I am by everyone who has helped raise awareness and who has signed up to bone marrow registries in response to the campaign.”

The first sign that Lara was unwell came when she began suffering muscular pain whilst carrying out research in Thailand.

After a blood test confirmed leukaemia, she returned to the UK to have chemotherapy at University College London Hospital.

Seb said: “The NHS has been absolutely amazing and none of this would have been possible without their incredible work and the work of Anthony Nolan.

“There are more things to come.

“One friend wants to make a photography installation of bone marrow donors and Stamp The Wax [an online music magazine] has even made a mix tape for Lara.

“A friend said that art can be used as an outlet in situations like this to stop donors and patients just being a statistic, so that is what we would like to do.”

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