Jaskomal Sher-gill was a bright, beautiful young woman in her final year of a Mathematics degree at University College London. After a successful internship at Barclays Capital in the summer of 2010 she planned a career in investment banking. Born in Hitchin, she, her parents, brother and sister moved to Clifton, near Luton, when she was a toddler and she lived there with her family for the rest of her life. A straight ‘A’ student at the Dame Alice Harpur School, she loved sport, singing and dancing as well as studying. Always sporty, her aim was to run the London Marathon one day.
However, when she was 21 she began to suffer chest pains and prolonged bouts of coughing. Initially diagnosed with tuberculosis, it was not until she underwent an operation on her lungs some four months after the initial diagnosis that the accurate cause of her illness – lymphoma – was discovered. She underwent chemotherapy and her family found out that she needed a bone marrow transplant to survive the illness. Jaskomal died in January 2013, aged 23. Although her brother Joban (one of the founders of the Foundation which bears her name) was a match for her and a bone marrow transplant took place, it was too late to save her life. Although cancer-free, her immune system was so suppressed that she was unable to fight a chest infection and tragically died. Her family and friends became aware during her illness of the acute shortage of Asian and other ethnic minority bone marrow donors on the National Register. (Only four per cent of the donors on the register are British Asian and only six per cent come from any British ethnic minority, which means that a blood cancer diagnosis if you are not white, is much more critical.) Determined to honour her memory and ‘Give Hope a Future’ the Jaskomal Foundation was established in March 2013, on Jaskomal’s birthday, to increase awareness of the need for ethnic minority bone marrow donors and to hold donor registration events for the Asian community. To date, the Foundation has attributed approximately 3,000 new donors to the Register through events in and around Bedford, London and the Midlands.