Prime Minister backs Match4Lara campaign to save Belsize Park woman's life
PUBLISHED: 11:28 21 January 2016 | UPDATED: 11:28 21 January 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron has voiced his support for a campaign to save the life of a Belsize Park woman.
Lara Casalotti, who is half-Thai and half-Italian, needs a stem cell transplant by April to save her life.
Speaking in Parliament after her plight was raised by Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq, Mr Cameron said: “I certainly will join the Honourable Lady [Tulip Siddiq MP] in supporting Lara’s campaign.”
And he added: “I have had meetings with the bone marrow organisations in No.10 Downing Street to support the matching campaign.”
Lara, 24, was diagnosed with acute myleoid leukaemia just before Christmas. A donor event is being held at the O2 Centre in Finchley Road on Saturday between 2pm and 6pm for potential matches.
Ms Siddiq urged the Prime Minister to come along.
She said: “Will the Prime Minister join me at this event on Saturday and will he send a message of support to those working to keep Lara alive?”
Although Mr Cameron did not commit to attending, he said: “I am sure by her raising it at Question Time in this way many others will want to come to this event on Saturday and support Lara in the way she suggests.”
Lara’s family has discovered that her brother Seb is not a match, and have launched the Match4Lara campaign to find a suitable donor.
Anthony Nolan, the UK’s leading blood cancer charity, said that it is one of the biggest global donor campaigns it has ever seen.
The charity had to change server to cope with the surge in new registrations.
Celebrities including JK Rowling, Steven Fry, Gareth Bale and actor Mark Wahlberg have voiced their support.
Lara said: “I would like to thank Tulip Siddiq for bringing up the match4lara campaign at PMQs.
“I sincerely appreciate David Cameron’s support to help raise awareness of increasing numbers on the bone marrow donor registries and the issue of needing to diversify the registries so that everyone has an equal chance of finding a donor.
“The event on Saturday will be a great opportunity to get as many people as possible signed up! It’s as simple as spitting into a tube!”
Just 0.5 per cent of people on the Anthony Nolan register are from East Asian backgrounds and 1.5 per cent are from European backgrounds, meaning finding a match for Lara is particularly difficult.
Ms Siddiq said: “I was very pleased to hear the Prime Minister give his support to Lara and the campaigners working hard to find her a match.
“Lara is an inspirational young woman and I hope my exchange with the PM will encourage many more people to sign up to the bone marrow register.
“There is currently an under-representation of mixed race donors on the register, exactly the kind of people who could be a match for Lara.
“I hope today’s exchange provides the platform for a broader discussion on how to rectify this imbalance in the months ahead.”