Bad blood test results and a terrible diagnosis: myeloid leukemia (LM). Two words that arouse fear, make lose hope, project one’s life into another dimension, that of a ceaseless race to the hospital and against time. Everything comes down to days (“how many of them left?”) While dreams and aspirations one has cultivated until a few hours earlier become evanescent. Many people find out every day that they have a deadly disease, swaying between fear, disbelief, and resignation. Lara Casalotti, a young Italian-Thai woman resident in Hampstead (north of London) must have experienced these feelings too. The 24-year-old woman has been carrying on her battle for survival against one of the most severe forms of “blood cancer” for some time now.
Chemotherapy and conventional cure, employed right after the diagnosis are not enough: Lara needs a bone marrow transplant by April in order to survive. This is where problems arise in a situation, which is very complicated in itself. It is difficult to find a suitable donor for a person with a “regular” gene pool, let alone for someone like Lara who comes from different ethnic groups is even more difficult. As the Telegraph explained, it is a widespread problem throughout the world and according to estimations, only one person (who belongs to an ethnic minority and needs a transplant) in five is able to find a perfect donor. Yet, despite the difficulties of the moment, she is not a person like any other. She has been a volunteer and has worked at the UN and at the Observatory for Human Rights. Besides, she knows five languages. This amazing young woman has given her time to other people and now they are trying to save her, helping the family to spread the hashtag #match4Lara.
The web campaign has gone viral almost immediately, appealing to ordinary users and to celebrities and people of culture. The last to have joined the choir was the photographer Mario Testino, the Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and the author of the saga “Harry Potter” JK Rowling who has tweeted: “Please RT! A Eurasian donor is desperately needed to save this young woman’s life. Do your thing, Twitter!”. But there are also bloggers and international newspapers such as Vanity Fair. The hashtag has been so successful that the foundation Anthony Nolan (specialized in leukemia), has recorded a significant increase of the number of registrations.
Everyone is by Lara’s side and by the side of her parents in a great outpouring of solidarity. Analyzing the hashtag, we note that the words most often recurring in different tweets posted on the subject are “daughter”, “help”, “please”, “life” and “save”. These terms reveal the sentiment of the users, who are concerned and call for responsibility. A slap in the face of those who use the Internet to spread hate and violence messages, perverting the deepest sense of the Web. The latter shortens distances, allows us to communicate with people who are halfway around the world and, in Lara’s case, allows to give hope to those who have lost it.