Press Release – Tuesday 7 October 2014

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safe_imageMartini Family announce ‘Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Awareness Day’


Tuesday 7 October 2014 : Today, the first anniversary of Margot Martini being diagnosed with leukaemia, sees her family announce the launch of the “Team Margot Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Awareness Day”. The day is designed to promote awareness around the need for more potential stem cell donors to join the UK & worldwide registries. The day will give particular encouragement to those with mixed race to register, as this is a stem bank that is very much under-represented.

There are 37,000 people worldwide who are desperately seeking a stem cell match and only 60% of transplant recipients currently find a perfect donor. Of those from a black, Asian or ethnic minority community, just 20.5% of transplant recipients ever find their perfect match.

Margot’s donor appeal in early 2014 received international coverage in 11 countries. Based solely upon Team Margot’s UK achievements, statistically over 500 people will now receive potentially life saving bone marrow transplants.

Commenting, Margot’s father, Yaser said: “Team Margot is committed to raising global awareness around the need for more stem cell donor recruits, hence the launch of this annual international awareness day to help promote greater understanding and to encourage more people to register as potential stem cell / bone marrow donors.”

Margot’s mother, Vicki added: “You can save a life. And even if you don’t, you can still gift someone more time with their family & loved ones.

We are asking people to do something amazing: register as a stem cell donor. If you’re ineligible to or already have, then please encourage Just One More person to do the same.”

Yaser adds: “Lastly, we wish to again thank everyone for their fantastic support and especially those who have cared for Margot over the last year and who continue to look after her – we are so grateful for the service provided by the NHS, in particular at both Great Ormond Street & Kingston Hospitals.

Margot’s journey to date has left our family owing a huge debt of thanks to the doctors, nurses and other staff at: Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, Elephant, Robin, Fox and Safari wards at Great Ormond Street Hospital and both Sunshine & Dolphin Wards at Kingston Hospital. Bless you all and thank you so much.”

The inaugural Team Margot Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Awareness Day will be on Wednesday 7 October 2015.

Thank you for your support.

Please see ‘How to register’.


Additional Information

Margot’s Story

Team Margot

Margot, pre-diagnosis

Margot Martini was diagnosed with Leukaemia on 7 October 2013, aged almost 14 months old.

Margot has an extremely rare form of Leukaemia, which has dual lineage – both Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) and Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML). At the time of diagnosis, the consultant haematologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital said that he had only seen 3 such cases in the last 10 years and from the outset the medical team advised Margot’s parents that her best chance of beating this blood cancer was a stem cell transplant/bone marrow transplant.

Margot eventually received a bone marrow donation on 21 February 2014 thanks to an anonymous and selfless German donor.

Margot relapsed in June and is currently being cared for at home.

To follow her story visit: http://www.teammargot.com/margots-story/


Margot’s Donor Appeal

Yaser, Margot’s father relates what happened : We desperately needed to find Margot a matching stem cell donor in order for her to have the bone marrow transplant that the doctors recommended.

Given that there wasn’t a match for Margot within our immediate family, we launched our own campaign to find one. On Christmas Eve Team Margot launched a general appeal for people to do something amazing and register as stem cell donors; we didn’t ask anyone for money, we simply sought their benevolence. The charity, Delete Blood Cancer UK made the whole process simple & painless: it involves a swab of your cheek to obtain your tissue type, which can then be included on the database and in the search process.

Margot, July 2014

Margot, July 2014

Margot was one of 1,800 people in the UK this year desperately seeking a stem cell match, there are 37,000 people worldwide. Unfortunately too few ever succeed in finding one.

Basically, it’s a numbers game – the more people that register, the more lives will be saved.

My wife, Vicki & I knew from the outset that there was only a slim chance of our appeal helping to find Margot her perfect match, but given the circumstances, a slim chance was better than ‘no chance’.

The public response to Margot’s appeal was unprecedented : in the UK alone there were over 50,000 requests for swab kits during those 6 weeks and Margot’s appeal attracted worldwide interest and coverage. As a result of Team Margot’s efforts, statistically over the course of the next 10 years there will be more than 500 people who will now benefit from potentially life saving bone marrow transplants.

Only 60% of transplant recipients currently find a perfect donor. Of those from a black, Asian or ethnic minority community, just 20.5% of transplant recipients ever find their perfect match.

Team Margot is committed to continuing to raise awareness around the need for more stem cell donor recruits and in particular more recruits with mixed race – unusual race mix was the reason why it wasn’t possible to find Margot a perfect donor match.

Margot’s mother, Vicki adds: You can save a life. And even if you don’t, you can still gift someone more time with their family & loved ones.

We are asking people to do something amazing: register as a stem cell donor. If you’re ineligible to or already have, then please encourage Just One More person to do the same. 10382221_625662667532790_7457331808536933407_o

The inaugural Team Margot Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Awareness Day will be on Wednesday 7 October 2015.


Bridge Walk startAbout Team Margot Team Margot is Margot’s family & friends of the family who together raised awareness of Margot’s plight and that of others like her desperately seeking a blood stem cell donor match.

For more information, please click here.


What’s the difference between a stem cell transplant and a bone marrow transplant ?

The only real distinction is in the method of collecting the stem cells.

Stem cells are versatile cells with the ability to divide and develop into many other kinds of cells.

Hematopoietic stem cells produce red blood cells, which deliver oxygen throughout the body, white blood cells, which help ward off infections and platelets, which allow blood to clot and wounds to heal. Hematopoietic stem cells are found in the bone marrow—the spongy material inside the bones. Some of the hematopoietic stem cells circulate from the marrow into the bloodstream. When the cells are found there, they are called peripheral blood stem cells.

While chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy are essential treatments for the majority of cancer patients, high doses can severely weaken—and even wipe out—healthy stem cells. That’s where stem cell transplantation comes in.

Stem cell transplantation is a general term that describes stem cell transplantation procedures that come from either the bone marrow or the blood. When stem cells are collected from bone marrow and transplanted into a patient, the procedure is known as a bone marrow transplant.

If the transplanted stem cells came from the bloodstream, the procedure is called a peripheral blood stem cell transplant, or simply a stem cell transplant.

Whether you hear someone talking about a “stem cell transplant” or a “bone marrow transplant,” they are still referring to stem cell transplantation. The only difference is where in the body the transplanted stem cells came from.

The transplants themselves are the same.