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APPEAL: Pradeep Thakkar survived his battle with cancer after successfully finding a stem cell donor and is now appealing for more people to give blood

APPEAL: Pradeep Thakkar survived his battle with cancer after successfully finding a stem cell donor and is now appealing for more people to give blood

Calls made for more BME donors

A cancer survivor is calling on more members of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BME) communities to come forward and give blood after having his own life ‘saved’ by donors.

Pradeep Thakkar was diagnosed with the rare disease, Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, in 2005 resulting in him losing many of his own red blood cells during chemotherapy and requiring blood transfusions to counteract the condition.

Unfortunately for the now 62-year-old, the disease spread and came back after 15 months. Despite undergoing further chemotherapy and blood transfusions - his only hope for long-term survival was a stem cell transplant.

During the first round of treatment the doctors had not found a donor across Europe but this time they did – a young mixed race man from here in the UK in Bristol.

Pradeep said: “They found the leukaemia while they were investigating a blocked artery. I’d had symptoms like shortness of breath but I ignored them because I thought it was because I was a smoker and I wasn’t fit.

“It was shocking – you hear it happens to other people but you don’t think it will happen to you.  During the chemotherapy I had six blood transfusions of two units each.  It was fantastic to get the transplant because when you relapse there was no other treatment.

“The cancer would have kept coming back. I wouldn’t be here – I would have died.  When you have the stem cell transplant it’s like you have alien  bodies going into your body, and your body is fighting back, it completely takes it out for you for three or four months.”

He added: “I am all for blood donations and stem cell transplant – they saved my life. The more people that do it the better.”

Currently, people from BME communities make up less than five per cent of those who have donated blood within the last 12 months, despite representing around 14 per cent of the population.

NHS Blood and Transplant now requires a further 6,500 more donations from Black, Asian and mixed race donors this year compared to last year to keep up with the demand.

Visit www.blood.co.uk for more information on how you can save a life.

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