Public called on to help save lives this weekend

THE Jersey community is this weekend being called on to try to help save the lives of two Islanders – and potentially others around the world in the process – by supporting two events planned to get people to sign up as stem cell donors.

Tony and Osvalda Ferreira urgently need to find a stem cell donor
Tony and Osvalda Ferreira urgently need to find a stem cell donor

Members of the Island’s Madeiran and Portuguese community, in particular, are being urged to sign up to a donor register, as both men requiring transplants are from Madeira and those from similar ethnic backgrounds are more likely to be a match.

Today, specialist consultant haematologist Dr Effie Liakopoulou revealed that gardener Antonio Ferreira, whose wife Osvalda made an emotional appeal in the JEP last week asking Islanders to help her save her lifelong love and father to their child, is not the only local man in desperate need of a transplant.

She did not give further details about the second man but said that he was in an ‘even more perilous condition’ than Mr Ferreira and needed to find a donor match urgently.

‘He has a very aggressive form of leukaemia,’ she said. ‘He is going to die in six months to a year if he does not have a transplant.’

She called on Islanders to rally in support of the pair. ‘You live here as a community,’ she said. ‘You operate as a community. To make a contribution like this, you don’t have the opportunity often to make such an international contribution. It’s a gift.’

Mr Ferreira suffers from Sézary syndrome, a rare cancer that he was diagnosed with last year and for which he has been receiving treatment in Jersey and London.

He has been unable to find a suitable donor among his family members.

The 34-year-old’s best chance of beating the cancer is a stem cell transplant, where a donor’s healthy cells are used to replace his damaged ones.

People between the ages of 16 and 30 of Portuguese or Madeiran background are the most likely to provide a successful match.

The Jersey Friends of Anthony Nolan will be setting up tomorrow and Sunday beside St Thomas’ Church in the Caritas International Welcome Centre.

They will ask potential donors to fill in a health questionnaire and provide a cheek swab.

Mr Ferreira’s wife and niece and nephew will be among the first to register.

Dr Liakopoulou, who has been treating Mr Ferreira said that potential donors have a chance to make a difference worldwide as there are few people of Madeiran and Portuguese descent currently on the international registers.

She added that while a person of British Caucasian ancestry who falls ill has a 70 per cent chance of finding a match, Mr Ferreira currently has less than five per cent.

The Madeiran community in Jersey is the second largest in the world and Dr Liakopolou said they have a unique opportunity to make a difference.

‘You save a life because what you offer would be needed, in one way or another, somewhere in the world,’ she said.

Top Stories

More From The Jersey Evening Post

UK & International News