Dying leukaemia patient appeals to public to join bone marrow register (From Richmond and Twickenham Times)
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Dying leukaemia patient Kevin Kararwa appeals to public to join bone marrow register
The final wish of a 24-year-old man told by doctors he has just one week to live is to see 2,400 more people register for bone marrow donation - 100 for every year he has lived.
Kevin Kararwa, of Canterbury Road, Morden, is spending his final days in an isolated hospital ward doing all he can to stop others dying from leukaemia.
He cannot speak or eat, but communicated via a text to speech phone app: "Most people are not aware that ethnic minorities struggle to find bone marrow transplants.
"I would like to be the catalyst in creating awareness like never before."
Mr Kararwa was in his third year studying business systems at the University of Portsmouth in April 2012 when he caught a cold that never went away.
Three weeks after developing flu symptoms he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), an aggressive life-threatening cancer, and has been in and out of hospital ever since.
In October last year the Wimbledon Guardian helped him launch an appeal to find a bone marrow match.
Five hundred people registered within two hours of Kevin's appeal being launched.
But a match still wasn't found.
Kevin's parents are Kenyan, reducing the chances of finding a match to one in 100,000 - the equivalent of finding one person in a packed Wembley stadium.
Mr Kararwa said people of ethnic minorities just don't have the understanding to join the bone marrow register, which involves taking a cheek cell sample using a cotton swab.
After several months of intensive chemotherapy failed to beat the cancer, doctors decided his only chance was to have a 50 per cent matched transplant donation from his 18-year-old brother.
But on Friday, May 9, doctors at King's College Hospital, Camberwell, discovered the leukaemia had returned. They said there was no more they could do and gave him two weeks to live.
Mr Kararwa's health is deteriorating every day, but despite his physical frailty, he is determined to motivate the public to join the UK bone marrow register.
He said: "In a way I would love to leave a legacy but it's more about other peoples' lives being saved through bone marrow donations."
He is spending all the time he can working to start a website, healthconnect, a forum allowing people with serious illnesses to connect online and combat loneliness.
Mr Kararwa said: "Cancer is never a good thing for anyone which is why I want to start this website so if you are unfortunate like me you have support from the outset.
"I noticed it is very difficult to speak to those who are going through it and those who have survived, especially in this ward you are isolated from people like you."
He would like the site to eventually cater for people suffering from all illnesses, but is focusing on leukaemia sufferers for now.
Mr Kararwa is paying someone to help him design the site, which he hope to send live soon, but needs more money to make the site in his name.
He said: "Finding out the disease had come back was overwhelming but I have my faith in God. Knowing my family are there for me give me the encouragement to continue to fight.
"This also helps me push the site forward because family play a very important role in support. That's what drives my website, a hope for the future."
Mr Kararwa's three final wishes are to raise £24,000 for the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust, inspire 2,400 people to join the bone marrow register and to keep his story alive in the media and public domain using hash tag #KillLeukaemia4Kevin.
To help him reach his fundraising target, donate at www.justgiving.com/KevinFinalWish
To join the bone marrow register by completing a simple swab test, visit https://www.deletebloodcancer.org.uk/become-a-donor/register.html
Listen to Veronica Kararwa, Kevin's mother's message, about why you should join the bone marrow register:
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