London siblings' bone marrow Twitter plea boosts Jewish donors
A brother and sister's search for a bone marrow match for their mother has led to a jump in the number of Jewish people joining the Anthony Nolan Trust.
Jonni, 34, and Caroline Berger, 31, appealed on Twitter - #spit4mum - after Sharon Berger was told she needed an urgent bone marrow transplant in weeks.
Mrs Berger, 61, of Harrow, north-west London, has myelodysplastic syndrome.
Finding a donor is proving difficult because her best match is likely to be another Ashkenazi Jew.
The Anthony Nolan Trust said 180 Jewish people signed up in the first two weeks of 2013, up from 31 in January 2012.
Up to 35,000 people registered as donors with the charity last year.
Mrs Berger was diagnosed with the blood disorder in 2006 and over Christmas her family was told she needed a bone marrow transplant within six weeks to survive.
Her children needed to get the message across quickly and urge people to join the register by providing a saliva sample.
Caroline Berger, who works with Oxfam, said: "It was a massive shock but in some ways you don't have time to be sad because we have only five weeks to find the person who could save her life."
Jonni Berger, 34, a tax consultant from Finchley, said they targeted both Twitter and Facebook.
"Given the age limit for registrants to the Anthony Nolan register is 16-30 we decided that Twitter was the best way to get to people and started a campaign requesting re-tweets using the same hashtag from celebrities and prominent members of the public," he said.
"Finding a match for our mum would be like winning the lottery and although at times it feels like the chances of finding a match are lower, we feel there must be someone out there who might be that match."
Lynsey Dickson, regional recruitment manager for the trust, said: "If someone needs a bone marrow transplant, it is often their last chance of survival.
"We know that the best possible match is likely to be someone from a similar background so we're urging all Jewish people aged 16-30 to come forward and join the register."
The age limit to register with the Anthony Nolan Trust is 30, but people aged between 18 and 49 can sign up to the British Bone Marrow Registry.