A FOREST HILL woman suffering from leukaemia is urgently seeking a bone marrow donor who could save her life.
Bengu Shail, of Mayow Road, was diagnosed in 2009 with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a cancer of the blood, and went through two years of intensive treatment to beat the disease, giving up her job as a TV producer to work for the Macmillan Cancer Support charity.
But in October this year, Ms Shail, born in north Cyprus, received the devastating news that her illness had returned and spread to her whole body.
Now the 34-year-old's only hope of survival is a bone marrow transplant, from a Cypriot donor - someone with a similar genetic background to her.
But, because of the lack of Turkish or Greek Cypriots on the worldwide donor register, no suitable candidate has been found.
She said: "All of us want a cure for cancer. In my case the cure is not in the hands of scientists, it’s in the hands of my community - selfless people who are willing to spare a few hours of their time to give someone like me a chance to live."
With the help of charities the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust, Leukaemia Cancer Society and Anthony Nolan, a series of recruitment drives are being held to find a bone marrow match, while celebrities Peter Andre and Tulisa have also pledged support.
Ms Shail, currently having chemotherapy at Lewisham Hospital, said: "I really hope we can increase the numbers of Cypriot people on the register and make sure other families never experience the heartache and fear my family are going through right now.
"Obviously I'm desperate to save my own life, but I also want to get as many people donating as possible."
People from all backgrounds aged 16 to 49 who reside in the UK are welcome at the first drive, held at Dr Fasil Kucuk Turkish School, Conisborough College, Bellingham Road, Catford, on December 8 from 11am to 5pm.
For more on the appeal, visit aclt.org or the Facebook group Give the Girl a Bone Marrow.