A simple cheek swab is all it takes to become a blood stem donor. Your details are then added to the national blood register, where the Turkish community is chronically under-represented, and it could help save a life.
Four years ago, the Turkish Women’s Philanthropic Association (TWPA), a registered British charity in Turnpike Lane, North London, led the call to help find a blood donor match for Talia Tosun, a young British Turkish Cypriot who was fighting an aggressive blood cancer.
Dozens of young people attended the TWPA’s North London centre, where the women’s group had teamed up with blood cancer charity DKMS to run a cheek swabbing session. Sadly, a match couldn’t be found in time for Talia, who passed away from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia aged just 24.
Everyone who did the swab at TWPA and the other centres in London at that time were registered on the UK’s blood registry. Yet the Turkish community remains critically under-represented compared to others, which would mean other young people diagnosed with blood cancer would equally struggle to find a donor match.
Figures shared by DKMS with T-VINE in 2020 showed that if a person in Briton of Turkish or Cypriot heritage is diagnosed with a form of blood cancer, their chances of a match are just 20% compared to white British, which have a 70% match.
Seeking to improve the odds, the TWPA is again working with DKMS to host a cheek swab session on Friday, 6 October. The session starts at 4pm and runs until 8pm and is open to all healthy people aged between 17 and 55 years old.
Seyyare Beyzade, the TWPA chairwoman, urged British Turks in North London to take the opportunity to attend the session and register.
“It’s really important that our community step forward and get themselves registered on the national Blood Register. It is heart-breaking to think we are losing young people like Talia because British Turks, Turkish Cypriots and Kurds are so chronically underrepresented,” Ms Beyzade said.
“There is a large Turkish-speaking community in North London, making the TWPA centre in Turnpike Lane really accessible. It just takes a few minutes to do the cheek swab and enter your details on the blood register, and you really could save a life,” added Mrs Beyzade.
In October, the TWPA is hosting a delegation from Turkiye’s leading leukaemia charity LOSEV and is using the occasion to raise awareness about this deadly disease among British Turks.
Those who cannot attend the TWPA swab test session can order a home-testing kit from DKMS – click here for details.
Swab tests at TWPA
Date: Friday 06 October 2023
Times: 4pm to 8pm
Venue: TWPA Centre, 4 Willoughby Road, Hornsey, London N8 0HR
More info: The venue is near to Turnpike Lane tube and bus station. Those wishing to park, there are on street restrictions until 6.30pm. For those wishing to attend by car earlier, TWPA has visitor parking permits for a small donation to cover its cost. Contact the TWPA by telephone on 0208 340 1600 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Main image, top, of a DNA sample being taken from a woman. Photo © Andrey Popov/ iStock