Thousands of people from ethnic minority backgrounds have signed up to the stem cell donor register following a campaign that launched less than a month ago.

Match4Lara, launched three weeks ago by the family of half-Thai, half-Italian student Lara Casalotti after she was diagnosed with a type of leukaemia, called for more people to help address the shortage of donors from ethnic minority and mixed-race backgrounds.

Lara Casalotti

Lara, a 24-year-old from Belsize Park in London, has acute myeloid leukaemia and needs to find a suitable donor by April to save her life.

After generating support from the likes of Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and JK Rowling, the campaign has encouraged at least 10,000 people to join the Anthony Nolan register – more than four times the number that signed up last year.

Lara held a “spit drive” in north London on Saturday to further boost her cause after it was found that her own brother, Seb, was not a stem cell match.

More than 100 people turned up to the event after David Cameron publicly backed the campaign during a session of Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs).

Spit sample
A volunteer donating a spit sample during the Anthony Nolan Match4Lara “spit drive” at the O2 centre in north London (Yui Mok/PA)

Felicity Kneeshaw, a friend of Lara’s, said the event had gone “really well” and there had been a positive atmosphere.

Ann O’Leary, from Anthony Nolan, said of the campaign: “I think the scale of it is a real testament to Lara and how many friends and strangers have been inspired by her and want to help.

“Lara’s family have also been really strong in the messaging about the need for mixed people and ethnic minorities, so people from these backgrounds have identified with the campaign and felt a responsibility to sign up and help tackle the inequalities faced by patients in need of a donor.

“We have been keeping track and can now confirm that we’ve recruited over 10,000 new donors to the Anthony Nolan register since the Match4Lara appeal began three weeks ago. Any one of these people could go on to save the life of someone like Lara.”