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Inspector Rik Basra returns to duty after leukaemia battle

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A police officer has reached a milestone in his recovery from leukaemia by reporting for duty for the first time in 18 months.

Inspector Rik Basra, who had life-saving transplant surgery at Christmas 2011, was declared fit enough to return to Leicestershire Police on Monday.

The 54-year-old, who has been with the force for 27 years, is working short shifts as he builds up his strength.

Rik said: "I spent ages ironing my shirt and pressing my trousers the night before I went back to work.

"I wouldn't say I was nervous, but there was definitely a bit of tension.

"But as soon as I walked through the front door at headquarters I felt at home.

"It was a real milestone for me because it's not so long since putting on my uniform and going to work seemed beyond reach.

"I saw a lot of people I hadn't seen for a long time, but they were all aware of what I'd been through and that was very touching."

He is back working in the department which oversees the force's handing of anti-social behaviour reports.

"It was tiring, and when I got home after a few hours back at work I needed a good sleep," said Rik. "I'm very much being guided by what my doctors tell me I can do.

"I'm working restricted hours at the moment, but I'm hoping it won't be long before I'll be able to build them up.

"There are no overnight fixes, I know that. It's a case of taking each day as it comes and building up my strength."

Rik's wife, Kas, said: "It was such a wonderful moment when he put his uniform back on.

"He looked like a little boy getting ready for his first day back at school. I was very proud of him.

"It was really emotional and took me back to the time before he became ill.

"This is a real turning point in our lives. We are lucky to have had this moment."

Rik learned he had acute myeloid leukaemia in 2009.

It is a form of cancer which attacks the body's ability to produce healthy blood cells.

He had several bouts of chemotherapy and thought he had beaten the disease.

However, in 2010 he again felt unwell and went for tests which revealed the cancer had returned.

Leukaemia damages the body's stem cells, which in turn affects its ability to create healthy blood and to then build an effective immune system, allowing the cancer to spread.

Shortly before Christmas 2011, with his health deteriorating rapidly, his donor was found in Germany.

The transplant involved a transfusion of blood that contains healthy stem cells which will help him build a stronger immune system to fight the cancer.

In the months before the transplant was carried out, Rik, his family, friends and police colleagues threw themselves into the national campaign to build up the number of donors on a national register maintained by the charity, Anthony Nolan.

The couple, whose efforts have been praised by the charity, say they will continue to help it expand the database, particularly by recruiting Asian donors who are under-represented on it.

An event at Leicester's De Montfort University last week saw 360 people sign up – making it the charity's most successful university campus recruitment drive in the country.

The next event will take place at Regent College, in Regent Road, near the University of Leicester, on Friday, April 26.

Chief Constable Simon Cole said: "We are delighted to see Rik in good health and back at work following his long battle with leukaemia. His colleagues have welcomed him back with open arms to the job he left at force headquarters over 18 months ago to receive treatment and we will, of course, support him during his phased return to full-time duties over the coming months.

"Many officers and staff from the force also continue to support Rik and his family to raise awareness of the importance of stem cell donation particularly within the Asian community."

Inspector Rik Basra returns to duty after leukaemia battle


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