09 October 2020 08:30
Get the biggest stories sent straight to your inbox Sign up for regular updates and breaking news from WalesOnline Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Invalid Email A grieving mumhas made a heart-felt plea for people from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds to become stem cell donors. Blessing Olalemi lost one daughter to a rare blood disorder and is now supporting her younger child through the same illness. Ms Olalemi's daughter Valerie died in April. "We've barely had a moment to grieve for our daughter and now we're praying for our four-year-old to survive,"the 39-year-old, from the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham but now living in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, told the PA news agency. Sign up to our FREE newsletter below Subscribe Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Invalid Email A grieving mother who lost one daughter to a rare blood disorder and is now supporting her younger child through the same illness has made a heart-felt plea for people from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds to become stem cell donors.
Blessing Olalemi's daughter Valerie died in April. The eight-year-old had a rare hereditary immunodeficiency called chronic granulomatous disorder. Now Ms Olalemi's four-year-old daughter, Praise, is battling the same illness. "We've barely had a moment to grieve for our daughter and now we're praying for our four-year-old to survive," the 39-year-old, from the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham but now living in Newcastle, told the PA news agency. The rare illness prevents white blood cells, which help the body to fight infections, from working correctly and a blood stem cell transplant offers the best chance of survival.
Praise, who was diagnosed with the condition at birth, was told she would need to rely on a stem cell donation from a stranger for her best chances of survival. Stem cell donors are found through genetic matching and the majority of matches will come from someone with the same ethnicity. Blood cancer charity DKMS said people with black backgrounds only have a 20% chance of finding a matching blood stem cell donor. Meanwhile, people from northern European backgrounds have a 69% chance. The charity said that, last month, Praise had a blood stem cell transplant at the Great North Children's Hospital in Newcastle. A lack of donors meant there was no "perfect" match, so the transplant went ahead with the best possible match. Mrs Olalemi, who also has another daughter, Kayla, 11, who was born without the disease, said: "With time running out, we had to go with our best option and we're grateful for that person for registering and doing such a selfless act. We've barely had a moment to grieve our middle daughter and now we're praying for our four-year-old, Praise, to survive. "My husband, John, and I desperately want to encourage more people, especially those from a BAME background, to sign up as potential blood stem cell donors with DKMS. If we had more people on the register, Valerie might have found her match and still be here, and Praise would have been matched with a stronger donor. "I wouldn't wish this on anyone, so, whilst many of us focus on Black History Month, we'd like to take this opportunity to change the future narrative for black donors and those from the wider BAME community." Jonathan Pearce, chief executive of DKMS UK, said: "We have this year developed specific activities to guide our work in supporting the further diversification of the UK's aligned stem cell registry. "The key to this is increasing the number of people from BAME backgrounds and communities on our register to be over-representative of the actual BAME populations in Britain. "We know that some BAME communities are under-represented as potential blood stem cell donors in DKMS UK's register, such as people from black African-Caribbean, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Chinese and mixed ethnicity backgrounds. So I would urge anyone that can register as a potential blood stem cell donor to please take action and go on stand-by to help save a life." Nine in 10 people called forward to be stem cell donors will do so with a process similar to a blood donation. People aged between 17 and 55 and in good general health are asked to join the stem cell donor register, particularly those from BAME backgrounds.