Following on from my last blog about the Great Scot Awards 2013. Today I would like to talk about the overall winner Naseem Siddiqui. I was asked to take a portrait of Nadeem and his daughter Ayesha. I arrived at the family home and started to set up my lights as It was getting dark outside so I needed to iluminate my subjects with flash. Next I cleared a space in their living room so that I would have enough room to work with nothing distracting in the background. By this point I effectively had a studio set up in the familys home which was perfect for a nice portrait.
The following story appeared in the Sunday Mail newspaper. I
great scot awards 2013: surgeon calls for government support over bid to find new teenage donors
NADEEM SIDDIQUI wants politicians to to allow health officials into Scottish high schools to talk to pupils about becoming potential donors as his nine-year-old daughter desperately seeks a transplant which could save her life.
GREAT Scot Nadeem Siddiqui is urging politicians to back a drive to find teenage bone marrow donors.
The 52-year-old cancer specialist, who is in a race against time to save the life of his nine-year-old daughter, wants ministers to allow health officials and volunteers into Scotland’s high schools and colleges to talk to pupils about becoming a donor.
The Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust, the first and now most successful UK register, have recently reduced the age people can go on their list from 18 to 16.
This comes after new scientific evidence proved that, the younger a donor is, the better the chance a patient has of a successful transplant. And targeting school leavers could see a massive rise in potential donors, saving thousands of lives.
It could also help to raise the numbers of young people of black, minority ethnic and mixed race backgrounds coming forward – something that could help to save Nadeem’s daughter Ayesha, who has a rare form of leukaemia.
Nadeem, whose drive to raise funds for the charity and add hundreds of donors to the register saw him hailed as our Great Scot 2013 last Saturday, said: “Scotland could become the first country in the world to do this. It would be groundbreaking and has the potential to save so many lives.
“We have health professionals going into schools across Scotland every day talking to children about things like the importance of dental health. Why not about this?”
The cancer surgeon believes a Government-backed campaign, much like those for organ donation, breast cancer and bowel cancer, could put a halt to misconceptions that exist about bone marrow donation.
Nadeem said: “A saliva sample is the first step, a spit to save a life. Bloods are then checked to see if a donor is a potential match for anyone waiting for a transplant.
“The stem cell donation is not an invasive operation as the word transplant suggests and it’s not life-threatening for the donor.
“And getting across the message about how amazing donors feel knowing they have been able to save a life is an important one.”
The doctor, who has spent a career in Scotland’s NHS helping cancer patients as a gynaecologist oncologist at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, has raised £180,000 for the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust and helped add 500 names to their register.
Within weeks of Ayesha being diagnosed with an acute lymphoblastic leukaemia called Philadelphia Positive, the family started a worldwide search for a donor, searching for one of mixed race with a white and Middle Eastern background.
As is the case for more than 70 per cent of patients on the register, no one in Ayesha’s family was a match.
A mixed race match is often one of the hardest to find as so few people from the ethnic community are on the register.
Ayesha was adopted by Nadeem and his wife Noreen, from Newton Mearns, Glasgow, when she was 15 months old.
He said: “The fact she is adopted has added another layer of difficulty to our search.
“We cope by being positive, remembering that things could change tomorrow, a donor could come on the register that is a match for Ayesha.”
Since Ayesha’s diagnosis in April 2011, Nadeem and his family, along with an army of volunteers, have raised cash and organised donor drives at universities, colleges and mosques, targeting 16 to 30-year-olds.
And with Ayesha now in her 30th month of chemotherapy, he wants their campaign to go into every school in Scotland.
He said: “We take great comfort knowing that, while we may not have found a donor for Ayesha yet, some of those who signed up to the register will help other families. But I would like the Government to look at our idea. I’d be happy for Ayesha’s story to be the face of any campaign in schools.”
Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said: “Dr Siddiqui’s passionate aim to promote the Anthony Nolan bone marrow and stem cell register is shared by the Scottish Government. Ayesha’s story can only help illustrate the importance of registering as a donor.”
Dr Brian Keighley, chairman of the British Medical Association in Scotland, said: “We welcome Dr Siddiqui’s efforts to raise awareness of bone marrow donation in schools.”
Former First Minister Lord McConnell, who led the Great Scots judging panel, said: “Many more people would be on the bone marrow register if they knew how important it was and how to join. Dr Siddiqui is uniquely placed as a professional and father to deliver that message and I welcome his plan.”
Nadeem, who says he is humbled by the Sunday Mail award and all the support he has received, added: “We take it one day at a time. Yesterday, Ayesha was enjoying being with her pals.
“Her doctors are wonderful, as are all the staff at Yorkhill. The Schiehallion ward is like a home from home for us.
“The ward is named after a Munro, which seems appropriate as we have a mountain to climb. But we are determined to get there.”
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