Kevin Kararwa dies after losing battle against leukaemia

Kevin Kararwa

Kevin Kararwa

First published in News
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Wimbledon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A 24-year-old leukaemia patient who dedicated his final days to helping other cancer sufferers has died.

Kevin Kararwa spent his final three weeks in an isolated hospital ward using social media to encourage 2,400 more people to join the bone marrow register - 100 for every year he lived.

Unable to speak or eat, he used his last strength attempting to build a website connecting cancer sufferers online and raise £24,000 for the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT).

He died just before midnight at King's College Hospital, Camberwell, on Monday, May 19, before seeing his final wishes come true.

Mr Kararwa grew up in Morden, attending St Teresa's Primary School, St Thomas Primary School, Mitcham and Wimbledon College.

Originally aspiring to be an architect, he switched to IT and enrolled on a business systems degree at the University of Portsmouth.

He was on a break from the third year of his degree, working at a Carphone Warehouse branch in Portsmouth, when he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in April 2012.

He battled the aggressive cancer for two years, receiving a 50 per cent-matched bone marrow transplant from his 18-year-old brother last October when a more suitable donor couldn't be found.

But on Friday, May 9, doctors discovered the leukaemia had returned to his brain cells, impacting his nervous system, and told him he had two weeks to live.

Speaking four days before her son's death, Veronica Kararwa said: "He's been a remarkable young man, I'm really proud.

"He's been really positive all the way through and even now, despite what is happening, he's still holding on and I guess most of it is to do with this faith."

Mr Kararwa leaves behind his mother, Veronica, brother, Ian and his partner.

His final wishes were to see 2,400 more people join the bone marrow register, raise £24,000 for the Afro-Caribbean Leukaemia Trust and build a website connecting people with serious illnesses.

Mrs Kararwa said: "His simple wish is for someone else not to go through this. He would like young people especially of the ethnic minority to be aware and register for bone marrow donation."

"His simple wish is if his experience can make a difference.

"His last wish is his struggle is not in vain, that people get to know how simple it is, for people to get more motivated about how they can register because he himself never knew."

Registering for bone marrow donation involves taking a cheek saliva sample with a cotton swab.

A bone marrow transplant involves taking healthy stem cells from one person's bone marrow, and transferring them to the bone marrow of another person.

Mrs Kararwa said: "When he was diagnosed we were never given the option that we could look for a donor and I wish we had been. We thought the would find something on the world registry.

"When he relapsed the ACLT had come to do a talk and that's when I learned what they do and they said they could help us to do a donor appeal but at that time, I guess it was too late, because a donor cannot be found quickly.

"But what we didn't realise was that the community just came forward - within two hours 500 people registered, so I'm thinking if we had a chance, we could have fundraised to go to Kenya and look for a donor."

The chances of finding a bone marrow match for patients from ethnic minorities is 1 in 100,000 - the equivalent of finding a single person in a packed Wembley stadium.

Beverley De-Gale OBE, co-founder and director of operations at ACLT, said: "Kevin was an amazing young man and ambassador for the ACLT.

"Through Kevin’s legacy, the ACLT will continue to spread awareness on his story through the #KillLeukaemia4Kevin hash tag and the low numbers of available bone marrow donors whilst registering as many volunteer bone marrow donors in order to save the many lives which are being needlessly lost".

To leave a tribute to Kevin Kararwa, please contact louisa.clarence@london.newsquest.co.uk

Comments (1)

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10:02am Wed 21 May 14

Noddyblanket says...

Heartbreaking, thoughts to all his loved ones
Heartbreaking, thoughts to all his loved ones Noddyblanket
  • Score: 4

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