Match4Lara: Family describe ‘pure relief’ as bone marrow match is found

Lara will have a bone marrow transplant in March

Lara will have a bone marrow transplant in March - Credit: Archant

The desperate search for a bone marrow donor for Belsize Park woman has come to an end after a genetic match was discovered.

Lara will have a bone marrow transplant in March

Lara will have a bone marrow transplant in March - Credit: Archant

The family of a Belsize Park woman with leukaemia have announced that a donor has been found by Hampstead blood cancer charity, Anthony Nolan.

The campaign to find 24-year-old Lara Casalotti a match has seen over 20,000 people join the bone marrow register worldwide.

Now, a matching stem cell donor has been found for the former South Hampstead High School pupil and her transplant will take place in March.

Lara’s mum, Supanya, said: “As a mum, I feel pure relief as we knew that the odds were stacked against Lara. Whoever the donor is, they will never, ever know how grateful I am. The transplant is still a few weeks away and I wish I could wrap them in cotton wool to keep them safe!

Hampstead & Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq supports Lara’s family, brother Seb, mother Supanya and father S

Hampstead & Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq supports Lara’s family, brother Seb, mother Supanya and father Stefano at the Match for Lara stand at the O2 Centre Finchley Rd on 23.01.16. - Credit: Archant


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“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.”

Lara was diagnosed with leukaemia before Christmas and, because of her Thai-Ialian heritage, there was a slim chance of finding a genetic match.

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Only three per cent of the worldwide donor registry are mixed race so, to increase her chances, Lara’s family launched a global appeal to encourage more diversity on the register.

Since the campaign launched less than a month ago, Anthony Nolan has seen an ‘unprecedented spike’ of new donors from black, Asian, ethnic minority or mixed race backgrounds.

Lara with her brother, Seb

Lara with her brother, Seb - Credit: Archant

The family have said they will continue to campaign for more mixed race people to join transplant lists.

Lara’s brother, Seb, said: “We’ve been so lucky in finding a match but we know that others are not so fortunate. The Match4Lara events planned around the world over the coming weeks will go ahead as planned, so that other families can one day receive the same good news.

“This campaign was hatched around the dinner table and we never expected it to receive such incredible support - we were inspired by the Match4Aary campaign, who is still waiting for a match, so we need people to keep signing up to registries worldwide.”

Lara, who will not yet know the identity of her donor, said: “These past months have been a whirlwind but I am so thankful a donor with a genetic match has now been found. Thanks to everyone’s immense support, I have always stayed hopeful that I would find one, but I realise how lucky I have been, given how difficult it was to find that donor.

“I want to keep urging people to sign up to the donor registries so that everyone can have a chance of finding their match. Let’s find a Match4All.”

Ann O’Leary, Head of Register Development at Anthony Nolan, said: “We’re over the moon that we’ve been able to find a suitable donor for Lara and that she is now able to begin her transplant journey.

“We are so grateful to Lara and all of her incredible supporters for spreading the word about the simple but vital act of donating stem cells. By diversifying the donor register, they have given hope to so many other people from ethnic minority and mixed race communities.”

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