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Ilford boxer, 25, calls on Asian heritage donors to help him beat blood cancer

PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 February 2019 | UPDATED: 12:13 01 February 2019

(Second left) Harj Bahtti with his brother and sisters. Photo: Anthony Nolan

(Second left) Harj Bahtti with his brother and sisters. Photo: Anthony Nolan

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A 25-year-old professional boxer from Ilford is calling on potential stem cell donors of Asian heritage to come forward and help him win his battle against cancer.

Harjeet Bhatti had been training at Bolton’s Fury Camp for his upcoming fight in Mexico, in October last year, when he began to get increasingly tired and suffer from shortness of breath.

When he returned home the following month, he became so unwell he could hardly walk.

His sister rushed him to A&E where he was diagnosed with rare blood cancer Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

“I couldn’t stand without support, my symptoms worsened, I had bleeding gums and I couldn’t walk,” Harj said.

He added: “At the hospital we were told that if we didn’t get there that day, it could have been too late.”

Harj is currently having chemotherapy but he has now been told that he needs a stem cell transplant if he is to be cured of his cancer.

Speaking about his diagnosis, his sister Kaljinder, said: “He’s still super positive, he’s quite nervous but he’s really grateful to have all the support.

“He just wants to get back fighting again, boxing is his whole life.

Harj’s siblings have been tested to see if they could be suitable stem cell donors but unfortunately they are not a match.

Around 75pc of UK patients won’t find a matching donor in their families, according to blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan.

His match is most likely to come from somebody with the same heritage.

But donors of Asian or other minority ethnic backgrounds make up only 16per cent of the register, and patients have only a 20pc chance of finding the best possible donor match compared to 69pc for people with white, European heritage.

It only takes two minutes to find out you are suitable donor – where a swab is used to collect cells from the inside of your cheek.

Anthony Nolan is now searching the stem cell register for a donor whose tissue type matches Harj’s, and who is willing to donate their stem cells to save his life.

Find about more about at anthonynolan.org/Harj

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