Bengu Shail is a Turkish Cypriot living in London who is desperate for a bone marrow donor.
Bengu was diagnosed with acute leukaemia in 2009 and has been having intensive treatment since. She has been working at the Macmillan Cancer Support Institute helping other patients, however her condition has worsened recently. The leukaemia has spread to other areas of her body and her only hope is for a bone marrow or stem cell transplant.
Her chances are reduced because there are only 15 million registered donors worldwide, very few of them being Turkish Cypriots, meaning her chances of finding a donor with a genetic match are slim.
Shail is currently in hospital and says that her life is not in the hands of physicians but her community. Every year hundreds of people die while waiting for potential donors.
The Cyprus Bone Marrow Donor Records centre holds a register of potential donors.
15 Nicandors Papamenas Street, 2032 Nicosia. Tel +357 22 7727
Leukaemia (or leukemia) refers to cancer of the blood which causes abnormal blood cell production – especially in the white blood cells needed for fighting infection and illness. Where normal blood cells eventually die, the defective cells don’t die as easily, leading to ‘overcrowding’ which prevents the regular cells from performing their function properly.
A bone marrow transplant offers the sufferer a much better chance of survival than chemotherapy alone. The procedure used to collect the marrow from a donor is relatively straightforward. The bone marrow harvest takes place in a hospital operating room, usually under general anesthesia and involves little risk and minimal discomfort. The process involves using a syringe to extract a small amount of bone marrow – a thick red liquid, often from the hip. This extracted amount is usually replaced by the body within 4 weeks.