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'Match4Zara' bone marrow donor campaign leads to transplant operation for teenager after match found

Zara and her family raised awareness of her search for a donor via social media

A teenage blood cancer patient from Winchester who launched a social media campaign to find a bone marrow donor to help save her life has had her transplant operation.

Zara Al Shaikh is half-Arabic and half-English and her mixed ethnicity means she has a very rare tissue type. She urgently needed a blood stem cell donor to treat her leukaemia. Following months of campaigning to raise awareness, a donor match was found in April.

Zara had her operation yesterday and a message on the 'Saving Zara's Life - Match4Zara' Facebook page said that she was sitting up and smiling after a successful transplant operation. Her family also took the chance to thank everyone who spread the message about her search.

Facebook page with Zara's message thanking supporters Credit: Match4Zara Facebook page

Zara's supporters had been working with charities such as Delete Blood Cancer UK to raise awareness. Her family are asking for people to continue signing donor registers so other families can benefit from the support which they have received.

Other donor registers include NHS Blood and Transplant and the Anthony Nolan organisation.


  1. Tom Savvides

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The number of people donating organs has fallen for the first time in eleven years. Fewer transplants are now taking place. Tom Savvides speaks to Nicky Clifford from Maidstone who says a kidney transplant transformed her life. This report also includes interviews with Sally Johnson from NHS Blood and Transplant and Hannah Cochrane from Portsmouth who's on the waiting list for a heart transplant.

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The first British woman to become a mother after having a heart and lung transplant is trying to raise awareness and money. Nicola Langlands from Eastbourne says there's not enough support for patients or their families.

Today, she was campaigning at the British Transplant Games in Gillingham, from where Iain McBride sent this report.

Iain spoke to Nicola and Megan Langlands.