Lorde targeted by Australian mum's campaign to find bone marrow donor

A South Australian mum-of-two is appealing to musical megastar Lorde in her plight to find a life-saving bone marrow donor.

Friends and family of Tania Soldo-Murphy have been campaigning to find a donor who matches her Irish/Croatian heritage for close to a year.

This week, the 'Find Tan A Donor' campaign turned to Grammy Award-winner Lorde, who has the Irish/Croatian ethnicity – and voice – needed to help Tania's urgent search.

Campaigners hope to capture Lorde’s attention on social media via a groundswell of people tagging and directing her to Tania’s page.

They hope the New Zealand native, who they’ve labelled “an all-round awesome chick”, will share Tania’s message and encourage more people – specifically of Irish/Croatian heritage – to join bone marrow donor registries.

Tania was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in July 2016, and cannot overcome the disease without a bone marrow transplant.

So far, Tania’s unique heritage has proved a hurdle; her likelihood of finding a suitable donor increases if they have the same ethnicity.

Known off-stage as Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor, Lorde’s hits such as TeamRoyals and Green Light have made her a worldwide star with a powerful platform of 6.6 million Facebook followers and 5.21 million Twitter followers.

Friend Jacqui Evans, who helps to run Find Tan A Donor, said the reason Tania doesn’t have a donor yet is because she’s of a minority mixed-race.

Jacqui said the idea to get Lorde involved came through a similar campaign to find a bone marrow match for a 24-year-old Chinese/Thai/Italian woman in the United Kingdom. Organisers managed to capture the attention and endorsement of celebrities such as J.K. Rowling and Stephen Fry, and a life-saving donor was eventually found.

“There’s 28-29 billion people on the worldwide registry today, and not one is a match for Tania,” Jacqui said.

“The reason we’re trying to get the likes of Lorde involved is because she has the same ethnic heritage, and a huge fan base to get the message out there.

“There’s another person out there walking around like Tania; it’s just a matter of finding them.”

After being “blasted with chemotherapy”, Tania is in remission, although a life-saving bone marrow transplant is still crucial for her survival long-term.

If a suitable donor is found, Tania needs to be in remission to have the transplant. She’s also had the maximum amount of chemotherapy allowed.

“So if she comes out of remission, that’s it for her,” Jacqui said.

“She’s had all the chemo she can have. To survive long-term, she needs a transplant.

“Every day is a borrowed day.”

How you can join the bone marrow registry

Joining the bone marrow registry involves a blood test through the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. In Australia, only one in 1500 potential donors will be asked to donate bone marrow in any year. You need to be prepared to donate anonymously to any patient anywhere in the world.

You won’t be contacted unless you are identified as a potential match, and you are able to withdraw at any time.

Nearly 90 per cent of donors have stem cells removed via a ‘peripheral blood stem cell collection’, which is as non-invasive as giving blood.

The other 10 per cent of people donate through bone marrow, where they give cells from the bone marrow in their pelvis. 

Normal bone marrow will regrow rapidly, and patients can resume normal activities after two or three days.

For more information visit the Red Cross Blood Service page on bone marrow donation, and the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

Phone the Red Cross on 13 14 95 to make an appointment.