Genetics are complex – and a patient finding a good match when they need it badly, is entirely a matter of chance.
But the larger the number of donors and more varied their backgrounds, the better it is for patients. And here lies the problem for many in our communities who need urgent help and who need it now.
Whereas white northern Europeans have a 90 per cent chance of finding a suitable match, the odds for black, Asian and other non-white minorities are slashed to just 40 per cent.
At present, just four per cent of registered potential donors are Asian, and this under-representation is precisely what increases the risk of death among minority ethnic communities.
In Birmingham in 2013 there was a 1,200 per cent rise in Asian people applying to join the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register online, an increase attributed to the awareness raised by the story of a two year old boy diagnosed with a rare blood disorder who needed a bone marrow transplant.
Now a Leeds mother hopes the story of her baby boy, and how his life was saved by a stem cell transplant from his three-year-old sister, will have the same effect.
Zahra Hussain, 29, of Morley, is calling for more people from ethnic minority backgrounds to join Anthony Nolan’s register of people willing to be stem cell donors.
Without the match her son would have been dependent upon Anthony Nolan finding him an unrelated donor.
“He was very lucky. It could so easily have been a different story,’ his mum tells the YEP on page seven today.
Let’s hope new donors sign up in droves to ensure more happy outcomes like this.