Bone marrow donor needed urgently to save mum's life

Banbury Cake: Sharon Berger with daughter Caroline and grandson Ben Sharon Berger with daughter Caroline and grandson Ben

A DAUGHTER has just five weeks to find a bone marrow donor to save her mum’s life.

Caroline Berger, from St Aldate’s, Oxford, is desperately trying to find a bone marrow match for her mum Sharon Berger, who is in isolation in hospital with leukaemia.

Doctors told Miss Berger that her 61-year-old mum needs the transplant within the next five weeks to survive the blood cancer disease.

Miss Berger, 31 who works at Oxfam’s headquarters in Cowley, said: “It’s a race against time.

“It is heartbreaking but I don’t have time to be sad because I’m just doing everything I can to save her life.

“That person could be anywhere, Oxford, Oxfordshire or anywhere in the world. But it’s more likely to be an Ashkenazi Jew because she is Jewish and of Russian and Eastern European decent.

“That’s why I am pleading for people to come forward.”

Miss Berger and blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan are organising a bone marrow register recruitment event in Oxford tomorrow to urge anyone aged 16 to 30 to sign up.

The event at the Oxford Jewish Centre in Richmond Road, Jericho, runs from 10.30am until 1.30pm.

Anthony Nolan Trust medical representatives from the University of Oxford will be there to give advice.

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To sign up to the register a spit sample is taken which couriers will take to laboratories to be tissue typed.

Then it takes just a few days to find out if a match has been found.

Mrs Berger has been ill with a blood disorder called myelodysplastic syndrome, MDS, for six years but this developed into leukaemia over Christmas.

Miss Berger added: “I think people hear the words bone marrow transplant and get scared, but most of them are done the same way as you give blood.

“It was at Christmas we got the news we have been dreading for six years. She’s in isolation which is hard. We have to scrub down and wear gowns and gloves every time we see her.”

Mrs Berger is in Hammersmith Hospital in London.

Miss Berger and her brother Jonni Berger started a twitter campaign #Spit4Mum to spread the word.

Their social media campaign has already led to a 500 per cent increase in the number of Jewish donors signing up to the bone marrow register, according to the Anthony Nolan Trust.

In the first two weeks of January 180 signed up compared to 31 in the same period last year.

Anthony Nolan spokeswoman Lynsey Dickson said: “If someone needs a bone marrow transplant it is often their last chance of survival.

“But first they need to find a matching donor, which can prove difficult for people with unusual ethnic backgrounds like Sharon.”

 

FACTFILE

A bone marrow donation is also known as a stem cell transplant.

It replaces damaged bone marrow with healthy bone marrow stem cells.

Bone marrow is a spongy tissue found in the hollow centre of some bones.

The stem cells in bone marrow produce the body’s blood cells.

The transplant involves taking healthy stem cells from the bone marrow of one person and transferring them to the bone marrow of another person.

About 90 per cent of donations are now done in a similar way as giving blood – through a vein in your arm.

A nurse visits at your home or office to give you injections over three days to help your body produce and release stem cells into your blood.

You then go to a hospital in London to make the donation, which takes about four hours.

Your blood is taken through a tube in your arm, and the cells are donated by passing the blood through a machine.

Side effects can include flu-like symptoms and aching but they’re usually mild and last just a couple of days.

The remaining 10 per cent of donations are done under general anesthetic involving an injection into the hip bone.

This involves two nights in hospital.

People signing up in Oxford tomorrow will be asked to fill out a short form and provide a small saliva sample.

If you can’t go to the event you can register online at anthonynolan.org

Comments (2)

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9:56pm Sat 26 Jan 13

liamf12 says...

I'm on the register. Even if you are scared about actually donating, do as I did and get on the register. When someone could die if you don't donate I'm sure the discomfort will be the last thing on your mind.
I'm on the register. Even if you are scared about actually donating, do as I did and get on the register. When someone could die if you don't donate I'm sure the discomfort will be the last thing on your mind. liamf12
  • Score: 0

3:04pm Sun 27 Jan 13

kaz.t.84 says...

i am an Ashkenazi Jew, i am on the bone marrow register, i am willing to be tested but i live in Hampshire and am unable to get to oxford tomorrow please contact me if i can be of any help
i am an Ashkenazi Jew, i am on the bone marrow register, i am willing to be tested but i live in Hampshire and am unable to get to oxford tomorrow please contact me if i can be of any help kaz.t.84
  • Score: 0

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