A Jewish mother named Sharon Berger residing in Kenton, England, who has leukemia, is the subject of a growing campaign to desperately find a stem cell donor to save her life. The popular singer Britney Spears has now added her name to the list of celebrities reaching out via social media on the stricken woman’s behalf.
Spears tweeted, "A British mum with leukemia needs a stem cell donor. RT, register, say a prayer, and save a life @GiftofLife @DKMS_uk #Spit4Mum"
The celebrated pop star – who has sold over 100 million records worldwide – joined such famous figures as Matt Lucas, Sharon Osbourne and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who have officially joined the family’s urgent drive for people to register as potential donors.
As the Times of Israel noted, other noted names participating in the campaign include boy band Blue, TV star Jamie Laing, Bear Grylls, Jeremy Kyle and Arlene Phillips, who have all shared the #Spit4Mum initiative online.
Sharon Berger, 65, of London was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) in 2012, and was informed by medical authorities that the only possible cure was a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor.
A worldwide search was begun – dubbed the #Spit4Mum campaign – and a matching donor was found within weeks, meaning that Berger had an apparently successful transplant in May 2013.
But as the Jewish Press reported, a recently conducted routine blood test revealed that even though she had a successful transplant, the aggressive nature of her illness caused the cancer to return. Doctors have now explained to the family that Berger has just a number of weeks before she must have a second transplant.
Blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan is diligently searching the world’s combined stem cell registries for an individual whose tissue type matches Berger’s. But the search may become difficult because of Berger’s combination of rare tissue types.
Given Berger's Jewish heritage, her best match is most likely an Ashkenazi Jew. Nevertheless, the family is encouraging everyone who is eligible to join the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow register, for consideration as a potential match.
According to a recent study, of patients who receive a second transplant, one in three survived for at least another five years.
“This means that if we can find Mum another match in the next month, there is a good chance that she will have a second chance at life post-transplant,” explained Berger’s son Jonni.
Ann O'Leary, Head of register and development at Anthony Nolan, stated: “We would urge anyone who hasn't joined up yet to consider doing so – it's straightforward and could help save the life of someone like Sharon.
“To join up you must be aged 16-30, in good health and weigh at least 50kg. We are particularly looking for people from Jewish and other ethnic minority backgrounds to join, as they are currently underrepresented on the donor register.”
To register as a stem cell donor in the U.S or Israel visit www.giftoflife.org.
To register to donate stem cells visit www.bmdw.org.