Blog Archives

A campaign to thank international NHS staff, in memory of my daughter-in-law Nikki two years on

While NHS Scotland is devolved, immigration policy is reserved to Westminster.

In memory of his wife Nikki, who died two years ago come March of complicated leukaemia, despite expert care from a multinational team and international cooperation to find a suitable bone marrow donor, my son Geoff is launching this campaign, to enhance awareness of the massive contribution made by immigrants to health services throughout the UK, and without which the NHS would collapse. He writes:

nikki-and-geoff-braterman-and-their-two-children

Nikki, Geoff, and ther children Phoebe and Oscar, a few months before she was diagnosed with leukemia

On 21st March it will be 2 years since Nikki died and I want to enlist your help in a campaign I’m working on partly in her memory.  In our first year since losing Nikki we raised over £10k for leukaemia and cancer care and research charities, and nearly £2.5k for Cruse Bereavement Care (who were a lifeline for me when things were at their most difficult).  However, I’m not doing any fundraising now because, whilst this generated public interest, most donations have come from family and friends.  I am well aware that I can induce compassion fatigue amongst everyone I know.

I want to do something else that I see as a fitting memorial to Nikki, and that is a campaign called the United Nations of the NHS, to thank and celebrate our international workforce.  The idea is to thank and celebrate our international NHS staff, to pass on messages to show that they are both needed and wanted and to pass on these messages to their employers and, via the Secretary of State for Health, the government.

This arose partly because of increasingly xenophobic rhetoric amongst politicians (across the political spectrum I should add) that we have seen since the Brexit vote last June.  I was particularly incensed by remarks that suggested that we should somehow aim to phase out foreign doctors in the NHS.

First off, 26% of NHS medical staff are non-UK born and 11% of the NHS workforce as a whole is foreign born.  We cannot recruit enough GPs and consultants as it is, so how can we have a  functioning health service drawing from a much smaller pool of suitably qualified staff?  Even if we were to expand medical education substantially it would take 10 years for a new medical student to become a GP (and there are arguments for making a GP training longer) and longer for a consultant.

Second, there is a moral argument.  After the Brexit vote I have had many EU born friends in tears because the message is “You’re not welcome.”  This, despite the fact that people have been living here for years, have been in jobs, started businesses, paid taxes, had relationships and families and participated as fully in UK national life as anyone who was born here.

Third, and this is why it relates to Nikki.  Nikki’s case was extremely medically complex.  Not only was the particular sub-type of her leukaemia complex and high risk, the nature of her relapse was rare, even for the most specialist haemo-oncologists to have seen.  The consultants leading her care are involved in international research and clinical collaboration, the search for a stem cell donor was international.  The NHS team was international too.  There were Indian doctors and nurses from Spain and Ireland.  Given that the team would also have included scientists, cleaners, caterers, porters, managers and administrators and many others (not all of whom we would have seen) I am sure that other nations were involved in Nikki’s care – hence, the United Nations of the NHS.

Where you come in

This is a web-based campaign (it is still embryonic).  You take a sneak peek at [under construction] and let me have any comments.  We will also be including a page for international NHS staff to share their stories about how they came to be working in the NHS.  But we need patient and carer stories now.

If you have a story of NHS care, where part of that care was provided by or depended on someone foreign born, I really want to hear so we can start with your story.

We will launch initially in Brighton (my adopted home) in March.  There are three reasons for this timing:

  1. The NHS will have a difficult winter and stories about such pressures will be fresh in people’s minds.
  2. This will be around the time that Article 50 will be triggered.
  3. As I said above, this is also the second anniversary of Nikki’s death and I want to do it to commemorate her too. As you probably know, Nikki was mixed heritage and both her parents were immigrants.  She was also very internationalist in her outlook and I know she would approve of this campaign.

If you could help, particularly if you could provide a story before we launch I would be extremely grateful.

Thank you so much.

Geoff

 

Are you of mixed Italian-Irish ancestry? If so, this could be your chance to save a life

Via my son Geoff, who lost his own mixed-ancestry wife to leukemia. Mixed ancestry donors are in particular demand.

If you think you may be able to help, contact the Anthony Nolan organisation at https://www.anthonynolan.org/ (age range 16 – 30), or, in the UK, US, Germany, or Poland (age range 18 – 55), https://www.dkms.org/en. Being tested is ust a matter of giving a cheek swab. If you are a match, donating marrow is minor, and can save a life.

And if you’re not Irish-Italian, you re less likely to be able to help Nicole, but there will be plenty of others that you could help.

Over to you

In memoriam Nikki Braterman; appeal for bone marrow donors (and for preserving the NHS)

Widower stands up to defend the NHS

Nikki shortly before her illness, with Geoffrey and their children Phoebe and Oscar

I wrote the original version of this post in September 2014, when the search was on for a bone marrow donor for my daughter-in-law Nikki. In fact, a suitable donor (not ideal, but close enough to look very hopeful) was found, and an apparently successful transfusion performed. Unfortunately, a few days later, before the transplanted stem cells had time to proliferate, she caught an infection and died. 

 I am renewing my appeal in Nikki’s memory. To register as a potential donor is easy. The more potential donors there are, the greater the chance of a good match being found for any individual, since we are all different, at the molecular level. This is true for all of us, but especially for those from what are, in the West, ethnic minorities, and for those of mixed race. Details of where you can register at the sites listed below. Different countries vary, but in the UK healthy individuals can register up to age 55.

With enormous courage, my son Geoffrey, Nikki’s widower, is speaking  about his experience with the NHS in Brighton at the special Labour Party event “Harry Leslie Smith Stands Up For Our NHS” this Sunday April 21 in Brighton. I do not usually use this blog to indulge in party politics, but would remind readers of the way in which the outgoing Westminster Government has, without any mandate, imposed large scale privatisation, restrictions, reorganisation, and confusion on this most fundamental of public services, which, David Cameron had assured us in debate, was “safe” in his hands.

Hi,

I desperately need your help to find a bone marrow donor for my daughter-in-law, Nikki Braterman who has acute myeloid leukaemia. Being Irish-European/Burmese, she has an extremely rare genetic make-up and we have not been able to find a match.

 Please help by doing three things:

 1- REGISTER as a potential bone marrow donor

 A simple swab or spit test will then determine whether you’re likely to be a match. If you are, then donating bone marrow is a fairly standard procedure these days, almost hassle free for the donor (it’s not a whole lot different to giving blood) and with a good success rate.

 Anyone who has European/Southeast Asian heritage – especially with a Portuguese name like De Souza or De Castro – would definitely be of interest.  However, all are encouraged to be tested as Nikki’s match may be from someone outside her ethnic grouping or you may save somebody else’s life.

 Please register with one of these organisations:

§  UK, aged 16-30: The Anthony Nolan Trust 

§  UK, aged 18-49: The British Bone Marrow Registry 

§  UK, aged 18-55: Delete Blood Cancer 

§  Australia (there’s a large Anglo-Burmese community in Perth): Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry

§  US: Be the Match

§  Canada: One Match

§  Worldwide: Bone Marrow Donors World Wide

 2 – FORWARD this email to everyone you know, and especially anyone who has a Southeast Asian  or other minority or mixed race heritage

 3 – SHARE my Nikki’s story via the social media channels below to help raise awareness

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-iw5wP1oXdK8/UK22ETSLiGI/AAAAAAAABsw/Q4Ni6oTNMkE/s1600/CSS3+Coded,+Responsive+Ready,+Social+Media+Buttons+styles.png  http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-iw5wP1oXdK8/UK22ETSLiGI/AAAAAAAABsw/Q4Ni6oTNMkE/s1600/CSS3+Coded,+Responsive+Ready,+Social+Media+Buttons+styles.pnghttp://1.bp.blogspot.com/-iw5wP1oXdK8/UK22ETSLiGI/AAAAAAAABsw/Q4Ni6oTNMkE/s1600/CSS3+Coded,+Responsive+Ready,+Social+Media+Buttons+styles.png

More on Nikki´s story in her own words, a fuller list of registration centres, and more, at Perfect Ten Match

Thank you!

Bone marrow donor urgently needed for my daughter-in-law. Mixed south Asian/Euro ancestry best chance

Hi,

I desperately need your help to find a bone marrow donor for my daughter-in-law, Nikki Braterman who has acute myeloid leukaemia. Being Irish-European/Burmese, she has an extremely rare genetic make-up and we have not been able to find a match.

 Please help by doing three things:

 1- REGISTER as a potential bone marrow donor

 A simple swab or spit test will then determine whether you’re likely to be a match. If you are, then donating bone marrow is a fairly standard procedure these days, almost hassle free for the donor (it’s not a whole lot different to giving blood) and with a good success rate.

 Anyone who has European/Southeast Asian heritage – especially with a Portuguese name like De Souza or De Castro – would definitely be of interest.  However, all are encouraged to be tested as Nikki’s match may be from someone outside her ethnic grouping or you may save somebody else’s life.

 Please register with one of these organisations:

§  UK, aged 16-30: The Anthony Nolan Trust 

§  UK, aged 18-49: The British Bone Marrow Registry 

§  UK, aged 18-55: Delete Blood Cancer 

§  Australia (there’s a large Anglo-Burmese community in Perth): Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry

§  US: Be the Match

§  Canada: One Match

§  Worldwide: Bone Marrow Donors World Wide

 2 – FORWARD this email to everyone you know, and especially anyone who has a Southeast Asian heritage

 3 – SHARE my Nikki’s story via the social media channels below to help raise awareness

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-iw5wP1oXdK8/UK22ETSLiGI/AAAAAAAABsw/Q4Ni6oTNMkE/s1600/CSS3+Coded,+Responsive+Ready,+Social+Media+Buttons+styles.png  http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-iw5wP1oXdK8/UK22ETSLiGI/AAAAAAAABsw/Q4Ni6oTNMkE/s1600/CSS3+Coded,+Responsive+Ready,+Social+Media+Buttons+styles.pnghttp://1.bp.blogspot.com/-iw5wP1oXdK8/UK22ETSLiGI/AAAAAAAABsw/Q4Ni6oTNMkE/s1600/CSS3+Coded,+Responsive+Ready,+Social+Media+Buttons+styles.png

 

For more information please visit Nikki´s site at Perfect Ten Match

Thank you!

%d bloggers like this: