Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with blood cancer and the register of stem cell donors – who are needed to save thousands of patients’ lives – does not currently meet the demand. Only 1 in 3 patients will find a donor match within their family and so every year over 2,000 people in the UK are left searching for a matching blood stem cell donor.
We wanted to share with you a really inspiring story – that of 4-year-old-Myla, who thanks to a generous stranger is looking forward to the healthy New Year that lies ahead.
Two Christmases ago, Myla from Woodhouse, South Yorkshire was putting up festive decorations when she slipped off her chair and fell. Thinking nothing of it she got back up and carried on, but the bruises that developed from the fall were worse than expected. Danielle, Myla’s mother took her 2-month-old baby Rio to hospital after he developed a nasty bout of bronchitis and mentioned Myla’s bruising to the doctor, who after running tests confirmed the worst.
Myla was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer called severe aplastic anaemia (SAA) just 48 hours before Christmas. The news came as a devastating blow to the family. The life-threatening condition drained Myla of her energy and made it difficult for her to enjoy her loves in life: swimming, gymnastics and ballet. Her best option was to find a blood stem cell match.
With, as mentioned, only 1 in 3 finding a blood stem cell donor match within their own family, Myla was one of the many unfortunate ones. Her and her family underwent a frightening few months before finding her perfect match in an anonymous stranger. Myla has now undergone the transplant and is back to her energetic self after spending Christmas at home.
But sadly here are still hundreds and thousands of patients out there who have not been as lucky as Myla. These people and their families don’t know if this might be the last year they spend together. Myla’s mother, Danielle, and Myla’s nan are on a mission to encourage other mothers to register as blood stem cell donors with DKMS this new year to try and safeguard the futures of other children.
Myla’s mum Danielle said, “There are other families around the country going through the same thing. My heart truly goes out to them – not knowing if this is your last year with your loved one is honestly unbearable.”
About Blood Stem Cell Donation
Blood cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death in the UK but there is a lot of fear around stem cell donation – of the process itself and of having a ‘depleted’ supply of stem cells. This isn’t the case. After donation, stem cells regenerate within two weeks so the donor won’t lose anything. Blood stem cell donation is easy to do and similar to blood donation. Around 90% of all donations are made through a method called peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC). In this method, blood is taken from one of the donor’s arms and a machine extracts the blood stem cells from it. The donor’s blood is then returned to them through their other arm. This is an outpatient procedure that is usually completed in 4-6 hours. In just 10% of cases, donations are made through bone marrow collection. This is under general anaesthetic so that no pain is experienced.