THE family of a Huddersfield girl who died waiting for a bone marrow transplant today backed the Examiner’s appeal to get more people to sign up as donors.
Selina Ramanah, from Almondbury, was just 22 when she lost her battle with acute myeloid leukaemia on February 10, 2006.
She had been waiting for a bone marrow transplant. Her family had made public appeals for people to register as donors with the Anthony Nolan Trust, the charity which keeps one of the UK’s two bone marrow donor registers.
They even held clinics in Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Preston and Wakefield where people could sign up to the register.
Sadly for Selina, a match could not be found in time to save her life.
But, two years on, her family want her memory to act as an inspiration to other people to get them to sign up as donors.
Selina’s mum Shantah said: “Selina was so young to be losing her life, and knowing someone could have helped her but we just couldn’t find them is very hard.
“Selina died knowing she didn’t have a match. She would have wanted to know that she helped people and inspired change for the better. She was an amazing person and we want to keep her memory alive by doing something positive.”
The family are backing the Examiner’s campaign to get more people to join the register. The campaign is being spearheaded by 26-year-old Examiner journalist Adrian Sudbury, who dying from leukaemia.
Adrian is spending the last weeks of his life fighting to raise awareness about the need for donors – and is pushing the Government to ensure 17 and 18-year-olds are educated as standard about bone marrow, blood and organ donation.
Shantah, her 19-year-old son Jason, daughter Devina Ramanah-Beck and her husband Gareth have all signed the Examiner’s online petition pushing for better education at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/bone-marrow
Like most people, the Ramanah family knew little about leukaemia, bone marrow or blood donation before Selina became ill.
Devina said: “We think Adrian’s campaign is a great idea. People need to know how easy signing up is and what’s involved. Some sort of education would be ideal. We didn’t know about giving blood or bone marrow before Selina was ill.
“It takes someone to focus on this for people to do something. Until you realise it can happen to anybody you don’t give that extra push. But it could by your sister, brother or daughter.
“If people know about donating when they are younger they can start giving. I think too that if there were regular clinics and people knew where and when they would be on, it would encourage people to sign up.”
Selina’s brother, Jason, said many of his friends are unaware of what bone marrow donation is about.
“There’s been a few people I have had chance to talk to in depth but generally, young people don’t really know about bone marrow donation.”
Now that he is old enough, the 19-year-old plans to sign up to the bone marrow register.
Jason was just 16 when Selina became ill. She had beaten off the disease once, while she was studying at Leeds College of Art and Design, but it returned three years later when she was in the second year of an illustration degree at Kingston University in London.
The search for a suitable donor was made even harder because the family originate from Mauritius. It is more difficult to find donor matches for patients who belong to ethnic minority groups. There is a shortage of donors from these groups and also a shortage of young male donors.
Devina said: “It took five minutes to sign up and it doesn’t hurt. Some people worry that they will be called on to keep giving marrow. You will probably only give once – maybe never – as there is such a small chance you will be a match.
“But the more people on the register, the better. Signing up means you can literally save someone’s life. You might be the only person who is a match. It can’t be left to someone else. So every single person counts.”
Anyone who would like to find out more about the Trust and becoming a donor can telephone 0207 2841234 or visit www.anthonynolan.org.uk