Finding a match for Meena

Meena Kumari-Sharma (Business Management, 2000), started 2018 with a life much like many of her peers. She was successfully juggling her career as a recruitment consultant alongside being a mother to five-year-old twins. But then she was diagnosed with leukaemia. Shortly after her diagnosis, Meena found out that she would require a stem cell transplant.

In many cases, people are able to find a donor match within the family, but that was not the case for Meena. There were further challenges to face when she discovered that a donor match could not be found on any of the national and international stem cell registers.

‘69% of white northern European patients can find the best possible match through one of the donor registers, but this drops to 20% for patients from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups. This issue is even more serious for me as I am a complex tissue match,’ Meena told us.

Undeterred by this distressing news, Meena set up an online campaign called Match4Meena via social media. The campaign aims to educate people who may not have heard the term blood cancer or stem cell donation before, or realise how easy the donation process is.

‘Myself, my family, friends and a network of volunteers have now organised over 60 donor drives. These have taken place across the UK, USA, Canada and India with the aim of increasing the number of donors on the international stem cell register to ultimately save lives across the world. We have added over 2,500 people, not including online registrations.’

Meena launched the campaign while undergoing intensive chemotherapy and making sure she spent quality time with her five-year-old twins.

‘I was a regular mummy, doing the school runs, completing homework, taking them for play dates. I made the most of the everyday activities as I missed so much when I was away from them during treatment.’

Meena is still searching for a donor and continues to campaign and organise donor drives both at home and abroad.

If you would like to find out more about Meena’s campaign, please visit: @Match4Meena