Help save cancer student’s life at Stratford university

Lara Casalotti has been diagnosed with an agressive form of cancer

Lara Casalotti has been diagnosed with an agressive form of cancer - Credit: Archant

Mixed race donors are frantically being sought to help save the life of a young student recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.

Lara spent Chrismas being treated in hospital

Lara spent Chrismas being treated in hospital - Credit: Archant

Doctors told Lara Casalotti she had acute myeloid leukaemia after she was taken ill a week before Christmas while on holiday in Thailand. The fast-growing cancer affects bone marrow and blood.

Despite undergoing chemotherapy, Lara needs a stem cell transplant to save her life. This involves taking healthy stem cells from a compatible donor.

But with her mixed race parentage – an Italian dad and Thai mum – finding a bone marrow donor match for Lara has proven difficult. None of her family members, not even her brother, have been a match.

The cause to find a donor for Lara has been picked up by celebrities including actor Stephen Fry and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and now the University of East London (UEL) is holding its own donor recruitment drive tomorrow and next Friday from 9am to 6pm to help find a match.

Lara Casalotti with her family

Lara Casalotti with her family - Credit: Archant

The university has a special connection to Lara as her dad, Dr Stefano Casalotti, is a senior lecturer in the School of Health, Sport and Bioscience at the Newham-based university.

He said: “I’m seeing this both as a parent and as a scientist. Doctors and scientists are trying to do their best to cure this deisease, but we know that for the next 10 or 20 years, we will still need stem cells of transplants as part of the treatment.

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“Unfortunately, I cannot help even though I am on the bone marrow register and have been for many years. If we were all on the register then when anybody needed stem cells a match could be found.”

Doctors have advised that Lara’s best chance of finding a donor is among people of mixed Asian­-European heritage aged between 16 and 30. Establishing a match can be achieved by providing a simple saliva sample.

Click here to find out more about the Match4Lara campaign and how you can help.

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