Celebrities, sports stars and politicians are today throwing their weight behind a new campaign to boost the number of stem cell and bone marrow donors worldwide, starting here in the UK.
Food writer Nigella Lawson, journalist and ex-political aide Alastair Campbell, TV presenters Adrian Chiles and Natalie Pinkham, screen stars Catherine Tate and Gemma Oaten and rugby heroes Jason Leonard and Lewis Moody are among a whole host of celebrities backing Team Margot in a bid to bolster the UK stem cell register.
Team Margot is a charity created in memory of Margot Martini, an inspirational toddler with a rare and aggressive form of leukaemia, who sparked a worldwide campaign to find more stem cell donors. Margot, from London, tragically lost her battle with blood cancer in 2014 and passed away aged just 2 years and 2 months old.
But her extraordinary legacy lives on, and a week from today – the second anniversary of her diagnosis – a new International Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Awareness Day is being launched to encourage a further 2.2million people to sign the UK stem cell register in her memory. The 2.2 figure represents both a celebration of Margot’s life and an aspiration to double the current number of people on the UK stem cell register, which stands at just over a million.
Former England Rugby World Cup Winner and RFU President, Jason Leonard OBE, is one of the high-profile sports stars supporting Team Margot’s campaign.
Jason said: “Having recently joined fellow rugby players in the ‘#BleedForEngland’ campaign, I was shocked to hear that less than 3% of us give blood, especially as we never know when we might need it ourselves. To hear about what Team Margot are doing to raise awareness around the lack of stem cell donors, carries a similar message and one I’m very proud to support. I urge as many people as possible to join the UK stem cell and bone marrow register and help support Team Margot with this important campaign.”
Alastair Campbell added: “Leukaemia killed my best friend and his daughter. Every person that signs up to the stem cell and bone marrow register increases the chance of saving more lives. You never know whether this will affect your family and so I encourage everyone to support Team Margot’s fantastic campaign.”
Other celebrities backing the Team Margot campaign include CNN Anchor Hala Gorani, ITV and Sky newsreaders Charlotte Hawkins and Sarah Hewson, Team England boxer Warren Baister and former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis. All of them have posed in photographs with Team Margot bracelets to promote the new stem cell and bone marrow awareness day (photographs available).
Blood Cancer is one of the top 10 most common causes of cancer death in the UK and worldwide. For many patients, a stem cell or bone marrow transplant offers the greatest chance of survival. However on average, only half of those seeking a “perfect” matching donor will ever find one. And if the patient – like Margot – has a mixed ethnic background or is from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) community – then the odds fall to just 21%, as finding a suitable donor with a matching tissue type becomes even harder.
Team Margot is therefore encouraging people from ethnic backgrounds and especially those with a mixed heritage to join the register and will be campaigning for more people to sign up over the coming year.
Today the charity is calling on the public to post a photograph & share on social media with the hashtag: #Register4Margot to raise awareness of the importance of stem cell and bone marrow donation.
But most importantly the charity is urging members of the public to join the stem cell and bone marrow register – details of which can be found on their website teammargot.com. They are also encouraging those who have already registered to encourage Just One More to do the same.
Victoria Martini, Margot’s mother said: “Margot was first diagnosed two years ago and in that time she has inspired tens of thousands of people to join the stem cell register both in the UK and around the world.
“Team Margot continues to honour Margot’s legacy and is committed to raising global awareness around the need for more stem cell donors. We hope the launch of this annual international awareness day will promote greater understanding and lead to many more people registering as potential life-saving donors.”
Yaser Martini, Margot’s father added: “To date, we are aware of at least 10 people who have not only joined the register because they were inspired by Margot & the efforts of Team Margot, but who have also gone on to actually donate their stem cells or bone marrow – which is incredible because it means that we are saving lives.”
Amongst those donors is three times World Hang Gliding and Paragliding Champion and world altitude record holder, Judy Leden MBE from Derbyshire, who donated her stem cells just a few weeks ago.
Judy said: “Margot’s picture inspired me to register as a stem cell and bone marrow donor. I felt strongly that if I would be prepared to accept a stem cell donation either for me or a member of my family, then I should be willing to donate. The registration process took a few minutes, and the actual donation took two 4-hour sessions. The feeling that I have been able to give someone hope, more time with their family and maybe even a cure is wonderful. ”
Yaser added: “By registering as a stem cell donor you could potentially save someone’s life and feel wonderful too. Please register today, and then encourage just one more person to do the same.”
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Together, saving lives
“As co-founders of the ACLT and parents of former leukaemia patient, Daniel De-Gale. We would like to congratulate Yaser, Nadia and the team at Team Margot Foundation on the launch of its inaugural International Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Awareness day. The ACLT fully supports this lifesaving worldwide initiative where someone is able to simply register in order to be tested and on standby in the hope that one of us is able to be chosen as a “special one” to help someone in urgent need of the gift of life.”
Beverley De-Gale, OBE & Orin Lewis OBE, Founders of ACLT (African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust)
Ann O’Leary, Head of Register Development at the blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, said: “Saving the lives of people with blood cancer is a truly global effort, as countries all over the world work together to find stem cell matches for people in need of a transplant.
“That’s why we’re so delighted that Team Margot are about to launch their first International Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Awareness Day. Margot’s legacy inspired an incredible number of people to become lifesaving stem cell donors all over the world, and we are looking forward to recruiting the next generation of lifesavers on 7th October at donor recruitment events in Margot’s name.
“Team Margot’s International Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Awareness Day will bust myths, raise awareness and bring hope to those desperately waiting to find a donor.”
Seun Adebiyi, Project Manager, Global Partnerships and Planning, American Cancer Society said: “When I was diagnosed with leukemia and lymphoma at the age of 26, I was shocked to learn that my African ancestry meant that I had less than a 17% chance of finding a compatible bone marrow donor. Thousands of patients with minority or mixed heritage search every day for a life saving donor. I was one of the lucky few who found a match, but many do not. Patients who can’t find donors are just as deserving of life as anyone else. We desperately need more donors of minority and mixed ancestry to overcome this inequity and to give patients like Margot a second chance at life.”
Theo Clarke, Lead Donor Relations Manager at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We really need young blood donors to sign up to the British Bone Marrow Registry (BBMR) and potentially become that one in a million match for someone in desperate need of a transplant. Joining the registry is really easy, all you have to do is tell a member of staff at the start of your next blood donation session that you want to join the registry and an extra sample of blood will be taken during your donation.
“Currently the chances of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and Mixed Race patients in the UK finding a matching donor can be as low as 40%, whereas Caucasian patients have around a 90% chance of finding a donor. So NHS Blood and Transplant is looking to recruit young BAME and Mixed Race blood donors and Caucasian male blood donors between the ages of 18 and 30 on to the BBMR . The more people we have on the register, the more of a chance we have at finding a match.”
To find out where your nearest session is and to book an appointment to give blood and join the BBMR, call 0300 123 23 23 or visit www.blood.co.uk.
A message from The Caribbean Bone Marrow Registry: “You turned your pain into a passion that became a purpose and a part of a great movement. On behalf of the team, members and affiliates of the Caribbean Bone Marrow Registry, we applaud your efforts and commitment in making a difference in the lives of those suffering from these terrible diseases. Thank You. We invite all to enroll, be a match and save a life.”
Peter Mas-Mollinedo, CEO of Delete Blood Cancer UK said: “In 2015 we have celebrated the 100th donor within Delete Blood Cancer UK. This marks a wonderful milestone in the organisation’s development. We would not have achieved so much so quickly without Margot’s appeal, so it is fitting tribute to all involved. We will continue to try and grow the registry so that everyone who needs a blood stem cell transplant will receive one. It really is very simple to register and it is such a heroic deed to become a donor, so why wouldn’t you just swab and register. Take 5 minutes of your life to help save someone’s life.”
Christa Justus from Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research said: “Margot Martini’s legacy is beautifully secured through the vital work of Team Margot. Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research proudly supports their efforts to help other angels like Margot live long, healthy, cancer-free lives.” gabriellesangels.org
Betina Sørensen, M.D. Senior Consultant at Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark said: “We are pleased to be working with Team Margot and fully support the Team Margot Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Awareness Day. Here in Denmark we will be marking the occasion in our blood bank by putting Team Margot stickers on soft drinks, chocolate and fruits, putting up posters on the walls, handing out Team Margot bracelets and showing the video with Margot in our waiting room.”
Amy Ronneberg, CFO, National Marrow Donor Program/Be The Match® Said: “Patients in need of a life-saving marrow transplant are most likely to match a donor of their same race and ethnicity. Team Margot is meeting that need by recruiting diverse donors and people of mixed heritage. We’re proud to partner with such an outstanding organization, dedicated to saving lives.”
Matti Korhonen, Senior Medical Officer at the Finnish Stem Cell Registry said:
“The Finnish Stem Cell Registry supports the International Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Awareness Day. We hope that through this initiative many more will decide to give leukemia patients a chance for cure.”
Tarryn Corlett – Chief Executive Officer of The Sunflower Fund, South Africa said:
“It is vital that we create awareness and educate the public about Leukaemia and other life threatening blood disorders as well as the desperate need for bone marrow stem cell donors. One of the biggest challenges that we face in South Africa, is the shortage of donors from Black, Coloured and Indian ethnic backgrounds. Team Margot Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Awareness Day will assist in the endeavours to educate the public and hopefully encourage donors, from all ethnic groups, to step forward all over the world.
If you are in South Africa and would like to become a lifesaving bone marrow stem cell donor, please contact The Sunflower fund on 0800 12 10 82 or visit www.sunflowerfund.org.za”
NOTES TO EDITOR
For comment, medical contacts, interviews and high resolution photos please contact Yaser Martini on: +44 208 876 1086 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About Margot Martini & Team Margot
In October 2013, 14-month-old Margot Martini was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of blood cancer, and required a bone marrow transplant (also known as a stem cell transplant) to survive.
Family and friends came together as Team Margot to raise awareness of Margot’s plight and others desperately seeking a blood stem cell donor match. Margot eventually found a suitable donor match and received her bone marrow transplant in February 2014. Unfortunately, Margot’s Leukaemia was extremely aggressive. She relapsed during the summer and passed away, aged 2 years and 2 months, on the 27 October 2014.
Margot’s family are unspeakably grateful to her selfless donor for his miraculous gift, which gave Margot extra time with her family and loved ones.
Achievements & Vision
Team Margot’s efforts to date have resulted in tens of thousands of people registering as potential stem cell donors. Statistically, this means that during the next ten years, more than 500 people will now have the chance of a potentially life saving bone marrow transplant.
Team Margot imagines a world where every patient in need of a bone marrow transplant is confident of quickly finding a matching donor. They want to help save the lives of all those people who, just like Margot and her family, never thought they’d need a bone marrow transplant.
To find out how quick and easy it is to register, please visit: http://www.teammargot.com/how-to-register/
Please join the movement & share on social media using #Register4Margot to show your support.
What’s the difference between a stem cell transplant and a bone marrow transplant ? Bone marrow and stem cell transplants are essentially the same thing – only the process of harvest differs – for more see:
Method of donation – peripheral stem cells and bone marrow
Yaser Martini, Margot’s father
tel: +44 208 876 1086
mobile: +44 7770 672 559
Team Margot Foundation Registered Charity Number: 1160236