A Jewish family from Leeds are urging people to sign up as potential stem cell donors, after it was revealed that their mother desperately requires a transplant if she is to survive.
Hilary Levinson, 62, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in September 2017 and has been told by doctors that she urgently requires new stem cells from a stranger with a matching tissue type to rebuild her immune system, to fight infection and disease. Given her Jewish heritage, Hilary’s donor will most likely be found in the Jewish community, but her family are urging all who can, to sign up.
Hilary, who is currently being treated at St James’s Hospital in Leeds, was given the news she had AML after a routine blood test showed she had a lower than normal white blood cell count. After several rounds of chemotherapy, Hilary was told a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor, which will replace her faulty immune system with a healthy new one, would be her best chance of cure.
Hilary recently became a grandmother for the first time, and her family are urging Jewish people to sign up to the Anthony Nolan register.
Adam Levinson, Hilary’s son, describes her as “bubbly”, “loving” and “always caring”. He said: “I hadn’t heard of Anthony Nolan or stem cell transplantation before my mum was diagnosed, so I realise how important it is to raise awareness.
“The Jewish community is such a close community – and I hope that people from all ethnic backgrounds, including Jewish people, will sign up to the register to help people like my mum.”
He added: “We are hopeful that we will find that one person who will save mum’s life. That person could be anyone, from any background. Anyone who signs up could help save the life of someone like my mum.”
Currently, donors from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME), which include people with Jewish heritage, make up just 16% of the register, and BAME patients have only a 20.5% chance of finding the best possible donor match, compared to 69% for white northern Europeans. Rebecca Pritchard, head of register development at Anthony Nolan, said: “We’ve seen in the past that the Jewish community has been incredibly supportive of our work and the need for more donors on the stem cell register.
“It’s time to rally once more to get the message out loud and clear, especially to people with Jewish backgrounds, so that we can find a match for people like Hilary. We are urging everybody to help give #Hope4Hilary by signing up to the register or by supporting our work financially.”
Anyone aged 16 to 30 and in good general health can join the Anthony Nolan register. It also costs £40 to recruit each potential donor to the register, so Anthony Nolan relies on financial support.
To find about more about joining the Anthony Nolan register, or to find out more about the different ways you can support, visit Anthonynolan.org/hope4hilary and share the campaign using #Hope4Hilary.