Team Margot campaigns for every individual who is eligible, particularly those of mixed heritage, to register as blood, organ, stem cell and bone marrow donors. In October 2013, 14-month-old Margot Martini
Margot had an extremely rare dual lineage Leukaemia with both Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) & Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML). The consultant haematologist told us that he had only seen 3 such cases in 10 years.
Alongside our partners at NHS Blood and Transplant we have developed an education programme for children of primary school ages, explaining how we can give to help others. This video is for children to
‘Life Continues’ is a film written and directed by the award winning Indian duo, Sumitra Bhave & Sunil Sukthankar, that raises awareness of organ donation. The film sheds light on the complicated & emotionally charged decision-making process for families when confronted by having to consider the organ donation of their recently deceased loved ones.
The film was screened for the first time earlier this month during south Asian heritage month & raises awareness of these issues, in advance of organ donation awareness week in the UK next month, the week commencing 14 September.
The narrative of the film underscores the importance of / how making an express decision to register as an organ donor (or not) can help your loved ones at an extremely difficult time.
And because family members will always be consulted, regardless of whether an express decision is registered, how sharing your thoughts and views on organ donation with your loved ones can provide guidance and comfort.
In many ways, the characters in the film go on an emotional journey that mirrors my own experience, when Vicki (my wife & Margot’s mum) raised the subject of donating Margot’s organs with me.
Please watch & share.
Together, saving lives
To register as an organ donor click here.
To share your views on organ donation with your loved ones: talk / write / message them. 🙏
Over the past 4 weeks we have been posting ‘Works of Heart’ from the HeartatHome.org project. We want to thank everyone for doing their bit during lockdown and in particular, having regard for and protecting the most vulnerable, who are still shielding.
There are even more Works of Heart which we haven’t shared and the collection is growing – you can even add your own too. Please take a look at HeartatHome.org share your favourites on social media and/or post them on your front door at home, or in your window.
The initiative also highlights and supports the law change around organ donation in England that came into force on 20 May this year, and which means that all adults in England will be considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die, unless they have recorded a decision not to donate, or are in one of the excluded groups. You still have a choice, so please register & record your express decision here: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-your-decision/
Importantly, take time to discuss your decision – whatever that may be – with your loved ones.
Very few people die in circumstances where organ donation is possible and many people don’t realise that their family’s support is needed for organ donation to go ahead.
Fewer than half of families agree to donation going ahead if they are unaware of their loved one’s decision to be a donor. This rises to over nine out of 10 when the decision to be an organ donor is known.
Don’t leave it too late to talk about organ donation.
While transplants are still continuing to happen, the number of transplants taking place is significantly diminished. Organ donation will not go ahead, if a potential donor is known to have, or is suspected of having, Covid-19.
The decision to donate your organs is yours. Talk to your loved ones to make sure they know how you feel.
Thank you 🙏
Together, saving lives
On behalf of all at Team Margot, I am delighted to share the fantastic news that the UK’s largest holiday park operator, Parkdean Resorts has selected Team Margot Foundation as its first corporate charity.
With 67 parks located in unrivalled locations, Parkdean Resorts is the UK’s largest holiday park operator and sells over 500,000 holidays and short breaks annually.
Steve Richards, Chief Executive Officer of Parkdean Resorts, said:
“Everything we do at Parkdean Resorts is centered on creating happy family memories for our customers and holiday home owners, so it was an easy decision to adopt Team Margot as our chosen charity for 2020.”
“Our team of 7,000 people located throughout the UK is looking forward to working closely with Team Margot to help raise awareness and funds for such a brilliant cause. We have a wide range of activities planned and are unashamedly ambitious about helping Team Margot positively impact families during their time of need. Supporting families, helping children and being proactive in the battle against children’s cancer is something we can all get behind.”
It’s thrilling for Team Margot Foundation to have such an exciting & comprehensive programme of events being lined up with Parkdean Resorts and we look forward to sharing more of what’s in store, in due course.
Together, saving lives
Dear Team Margot Supporter
Our family set up Team Margot Foundation three months after Margot died and last month marked five years as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation and over six years since we launched Margot’s appeal for her matching stem cell donor.
It’s a time of reflection and we have tended to use today, the anniversary of Margot’s bone marrow transplant in 2014, as a time to publish information about the work of the Charity.
By all accounts, Margot’s appeal was remarkable. At the time, it was credited as having been the most high profile global donor appeal anywhere in the world, embracing national and international TV, radio, print, online, outdoor media and Virgin America flights; Margot’s appeal was covered by the media in more than a dozen countries. During the first 6 weeks of Margot’s appeal, DKMS UK (previously named Delete Blood Cancer UK) received over 50,000 requests for swab kits in the UK alone, resulting in tens of thousands of people registering as stem cell donors.
As a direct result, every week since, on average one blood cancer patient has had the chance of a potentially life-saving bone marrow / stem cell transplant.
What’s also remarkable is that Team Margot is still campaigning for everyone who is eligible, particularly those of mixed heritage, to register as stem cell and bone marrow donors.
And because Margot needed many blood and platelet transfusions to keep her well during treatment and following the tough discussion my wife and I had about donating Margot’s organs, the Charity also promotes the need for more blood donors and organ donors too.
The Charity has primarily sought to encourage more stem cell registrations and the modus operandi has been to try and do less of the ‘on the ground’ registration events (although there were some 60 donor registration events held in the 12 months after Margot died, with many others since) and instead, more of the activity that might drive people online to register in large numbers.
This has included a diverse array of activities, amongst other things: publishing a song and music video with students from Elstree UTC & the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra called “Light The Way” (“an anthem for people with blood cancer“), a national campaign that included media appearances on TV & radio, a national billboard campaign, numerous adverts & media appearances such as appearing on the London Underground and UK railway network and an appearance on London’s world famous Piccadilly Lights. Other events have included a Parliamentary Reception at The House of Commons, a photographic Exhibition at City Hall in London, an expedition across Greenland, Mayors Question Time, three attempts at rowing across the Irish Sea (we made it third time lucky!), a documentary “Finding the Perfect Match” by Stephanie Gabbatt, several appearances at the Great River Race, a ‘Team Margot Ten Miler’ and most recently, the epic Atlantic Row and #WeRowYouRegister campaign.
Such reflection naturally leads on to more practical, current considerations and the trustees have been giving a lot of thought to the relevance of the Charity today and how it might continue to make a meaningful difference into the future.
Accordingly, going forward, the focus of the Charity will be on education, primarily via the ‘Giving to help others’ platform. This education programme, which has been conceived and developed in partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant, is aimed at children of primary school ages and raises awareness of & encourages stem cell donation alongside other forms of donation, such as blood and organs. The Charity seeks to encourage schools, parents and guardians to download the free, teacher approved materials to begin the conversation and learn the facts about donation together with their pupils and children. The aim is to bring about long term culture change, particularly in the communities where the need is greatest, so that increasingly people register and are donors & ultimately for donation to become regarded as the norm, rather than being the exception.
Team Margot Foundation is first and foremost a campaigning charity, however it also has a grant giving function. The trustees are immensely grateful to the many people, schools & organisations for their generous donations and inspirational fundraising that has enabled the Charity to make 186 ‘one-off’ £1,000 grants towards families caring for child cancer patients. These grants are for the recipient families to use in any way they wish & they have come to be regarded as ‘emergency funds’ because the funds are approved and typically arrive within 24 hours, following receipt of the patient’s bank details.
On behalf of the recipient families, the various hospital networks & social workers who make the approval process so straightforward: thank you.
And as ever, thank YOU for your ongoing support.
Together, saving lives
In 2013, my daughter Margot was diagnosed with blood cancer and she needed a bone marrow transplant to stand the best chance of survival.
But a transplant isn’t possible without a donor.
In the search for her donor match, we learned that Margot’s mixed heritage was the reason why it wasn’t possible to find her ‘perfect match’.
People with a mixed heritage are the most disadvantaged when it comes to seeking a donor with a matching tissue type. Similarly, those from the Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are far less likely to find their match than a white Northern European patient, for instance.
The registers of stem cell and bone marrow donors are simply not large enough, nor are they sufficiently diverse. It is estimated that mixed race makes up only 3% of the registered bone marrow donors worldwide.
It’s complex; mixed race has no medical definition and because of varying perception’s of what ‘mixed heritage’ or ‘mixed race’ is, there is no common understanding. Moreover, how people choose to self identify and relate to this often determines whether they recognise the need to register as a stem cell and bone marrow donor.
Margot’s story underscores the importance of these issues; her heritage was a blend of Syrian, Armenian, Scottish, Thai, English and New Zealand, however none of this could be determined from simply looking at her.
The need for more donors of mixed heritage on the registers is only becoming greater and more necessary. Thankfully, the message is beginning to get out and today there are two campaigns running right now where mixed race patients are desperately seeking their perfect matching donors.
Please see Astrid & Peter’s stories below and SHARE.
Together, saving lives
Astrid has leukaemia and is desperately searching for a stem cell donor
But because of her mixed race, she faces a huge challenge
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) September 7, 2019
Tom [pictured – click here for his story] is just one of many people who signed up as a potential bone marrow donor because of Margot and went on to donate.
On average, there’s someone like Tom every week, who registered because of Margot or because of the efforts of Team Margot and who then goes on to donate peripheral blood stem cells or bone marrow.
These donations give hope and a second chance at life to patients, for whom there are no other options.
We love hearing these donor stories, however the vast majority of the donations are anonymous, so we always love to herald the few where the donors are willing to share their experiences.
Listen to Katrina talk about her experiences as a bone marrow donor, which is the much less likely form of donation.
On behalf of all the patients & their families & loved ones, THANK YOU and not just to Tom and all the donors listed here but also to EVERYONE who has joined the stem cell register & who supports Team Margot !
Statistically, we are told by DKMS UK that there will be more than 500 people, over 10 years, who will now receive a potentially life saving bone marrow transplant, thanks to the work of Team Margot, which is amazing.
Team Margot stem cell & bone marrow donor stories – click below to read more:
FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN SAVE A LIFE.
WHAT’S INVOLVED WITH A STEM CELL OR BONE MARROW DONATION
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A STEM CELL TRANSPLANT AND A BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT
HOW TO REGISTER
BECOME A BLOOD DONOR
REGISTER AS AN ORGAN DONOR
We set up Team Margot Foundation in January 2015, in memory of my daughter, Margot and to honour her legacy. A year earlier, Margot’s patient appeal for a bone marrow donor saw over 50,000 people in the UK alone requesting swab kits online, in order that they could join the register as potential donors. Margot’s appeal was covered by the media in thirteen countries and because Team Margot had built a following, we simply continued campaigning after Margot’s transplant, for the greater good.
Margot’s mixed heritage was the key reason we were unable to find her ‘perfect match’ and we soon learned about the stark disparity between the 69% chance of a White Northern European blood cancer patient finding their 10/10 antigen match and the 21% chance of a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic patient finding their equivalent match.
It turns out that the odds are worse still if, like Margot, you’re mixed race.
This under-representation of Black, Asian, Mixed Race and Minority Ethnic (BAME) donors on the worldwide bone marrow / stem cell registers is also the prevalent issue when it comes to the need for more blood and organ donors too.
Our work has revealed that Margot’s story resonates with children of primary school ages and that young children are able to recall salient details remarkably well.
We believe that tailored education and awareness for children of primary school ages (5-11) will ultimately result in two key outcomes:
We first trialled our assembly presentation ‘test of concept’ at the start of October 2017 and officially launched the programme and our initial findings later that month, working with the Education and Youth Team, at City Hall in London. The presentation materials, including powerpoint slides, teacher notes and short animated video are all available to use for free via givingtohelpothers.org
We recognise the need for our education and awareness programme to reach out to teachers, teaching staff and also parents and the wider school communities outside the classrooms, in addition to the children themselves.
During the course of the last few weeks, the ‘Giving to help others’ assembly presentation has been piloted in several primary schools within the London borough of Southwark. We have attended these assemblies, strictly as observers and are awaiting the analysis of the feedback forms received from 725 pupils and 22 teachers.
Thank you again to everyone involved. It’s a very fluid and iterative process, however I’m pleased to tell you that our learnings are already helping to inform next steps and how best to assess and encourage greater social impact, in order that more people sign up as potential stem cell donors, give blood and register as organ donors.
It took a loved one for me to change my own attitude and behaviour towards donation and I very much hope that others will embrace the culture and philosophy of ‘Giving to help others’, without first having to suffer their own family tragedy.
Together, saving lives
Today (and every 3rd Saturday in September, annually) is World Marrow Donor Day – it’s a time when we say THANK YOU to everyone who has registered as a stem cell and bone marrow donor.
Personally, it’s also a time of reflection and gratitude for me and my family, for the goodwill shown to us by so many people – family, friends and complete strangers – for their support and importantly, their actions, when Margot needed help.
In the UK alone, there were tens of thousands of people who signed up in response to Margot’s appeal for a stem cell donor back in January 2014. Compared to back then, there are now twice as many people globally who have done the same, which is really important when you consider that for half of all patients, a donor is found in another country. That was certainly the case for Margot, whose donor was eventually found on the DKMS register in Germany.
So thank you again for your support back then, your support now and also for your continued support going forward. Together, we’re continuing to save lives.
Together, saving lives
WHAT YOU CAN DO!
Becoming a blood stem cell donor is relatively easy and you will be joining a club of millions of donors globally.