Sharon’slegacy lives on

Sacha Johnstone writes for the Essex Jewish News as he helps to save a life

APPROXIMATELY 10 years ago, a Jewish mother in London named Sharon Berger was diagnosed with Leukaemia, and was in desperate need of an urgent stem cell transplant.

Her children took to social media with the hashtag #Spit4Mum in an attempt to find a suitable match, most likely to come from within the Ashkenazi Jewish community.
The purpose of the campaign was to encourage fit and healthy Jews aged 16-30 to sign up to the Anthony Nolan stem cell register.

The campaign led to a 1,100% increase in British Jews registering. Sharon thankfully found an anonymous match within weeks and was given a second shot at life. Unfortunately, her cancer did return a few years later and she sadly passed away in 2017.

But Sharon’s legacy very much lives on. A few months ago, I was contacted by Anthony Nolan and told that I’m a potential match for someone suffering from blood cancer

After undergoing a few more tests, the compatibility was confirmed. As I write this article, I am donating my stem cells in the hope of saving the life of this anonymous individual. I have no idea who they are. I just know that I can hopefully help to give them a fighting chance at life.

Whilst I never knew Sharon, nor do I know her children, it was their #Spit4Mum campaign that inspired me to sign up for the register.

I read online that in the years following the campaign launch, five other lives were saved by donors inspired to sign up for Sharon. I can only imagine how many more lives have been saved thanks to this campaign in the subsequent years that followed. Now, 10 years after Sharon’s diagnosis, the campaign launched in her name has now hopefully helped to save one more.

So aside from paying tribute to Sharon, in whose merit I am donating today, if this article can encourage just one other person to sign up for the stem cell register, it will have been worth it.

If you are healthy and aged 16-30, you can sign up! There is a particular shortage of men, as well as ethnic minorities (including Jews). It really is so easy to sign up, and you might even save a life.

Visit for more info.

Sacha Johnstone donating stem cells at The London Clinic



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