Hitchin man’s campaign in memory of sister
- Credit: Archant
A MAN whose sister died after battling blood cancer has launched a campaign in her memory, calling for more ethnic minorities to join the bone marrow register.
Joban Sher-gill, from Clifton, has set up a foundation in memory of sister Jaskomal, who died in January aged 23 after being diagnosed with lymphoma.
The former Hitchin resident, who donated blood cells to Jaskomal after finding out he was a match, wants more Asian people to join the bone marrow register.
Although Jaskomal, who lived with her brother, later died from a chest infection contracted because her immune system was so low, Joban says the transplant gave her a new focus.
“It gave her a new hope, a new future, a new lease of life. She took it as her being reborn,” said the 25-year-old.
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“She was so happy and elated, she felt like it was a life saving moment where it could do something for her.”
Jaskomal, who was studying maths at University College London, was diagnosed with lymphoma around 18 months ago.
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She was told her best chance of surviving was a high dose of chemotherapy, which kills the cancer but also significantly lowers immunity, followed by the transplant.
She underwent both, and Joban wants other people to have the same chance.
That’s why he has set up the Jaskomal Foundation, along with the Anthony Nolan trust, to encourage Asian people to join the register.
The campaign was launched during Hitchin’s Vaisakhi celebrations on Saturday, with 130 signing up.
“It was a huge response, better than expected. We were overwhelmed,” said Joban.
“I didn’t really know what to do, then I thought about it and found out there was a huge lack of Asians on the register.
“If I wasn’t a match for my sister, we would have had to have looked on the register, and the chance of finding somebody would have been slim.”
Currently, just four per cent of people on the register are Asian.
Although Joban’s campaign started off locally, he hopes it will eventually become national.
“We’re starting off with our community, in Hitchin, and hoping to push out into London and then other cities,” he said.
“This is only just the start.”
Lynsey Dickson, regional recruitment manager at Anthony Nolan, added: “An Asian person with blood cancer who needs a lifesaving transplant has only a 40 per cent chance of finding a match.
“We urgently need more people from Asian backgrounds to join the Anthony Nolan register to give these patients a chance of life.”
To find out more about the campaign, visit www.jaskomalfoundation.org