The family of a young girl who has a rare blood disorder say they are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support after more than 50,000 strangers signed up as stem cell donors.
Three-year-old Ava Stark has a blood disorder called inherited bone marrow failure and needs a stem cell transplant to survive.
The donor needs to be a “10 out of 10” genetic match, so her family and donor charities are recruiting as many volunteers as possible to give her the best chance of survival.
So far the response has been astounding.
Ava’s mum, Marie, told the Daily Record : “I’m almost speechless. I just want to scream. It’s absolutely incredible.
“My entire family thanks everyone from the bottom of their hearts.
“There aren’t words to describe how this response has made us feel.”
Donor charities Anthony Nolan and DKMS were equally stunned by the massive response.
The family was left heartbroken in July when a possible donor had to pull out.
And on Tuesday, it was revealed a second donor identified by doctors had been forced to withdraw for medical reasons.
Marie, 33, got the shattering news hours before she was due to take Ava into hospital to begin preparations for the transplant.
The tot’s bags were almost packed when the doctors phoned.
The response has been staggering since the Daily Record made an appeal on Tuesday for people to help the Save Ava campaign by registering as donors.
The total number of new donors was due to pass 50,000 on Friday.
Marie is thrilled not just for her daughter, but for all the other patients waiting for transplants.
She said: “I can’t stress how important it is for those who can donate to sign up.
“You can save a family’s world by spitting in a tube or swabbing your cheek to find out if you’re a match.
“If you can’t donate, share the message with those around you who might. That can be your way of giving the gift of life.”
Marie also wants people to donate blood and platelets. Like many patients, Ava relies on blood transfusions to keep her alive while she waits for a donor.
Sarah Gray of DKMS believes the Save Ava donors could end up saving many other lives.
She said: “The impact of this response will last decades. It’s been great – but we need many more people to register.”
The stem cells Ava needs are found in the bone marrow, where the body makes new blood.
As well as bone marrow failure, they can be used to treat sickle cell anaemia, leukaemia , non-Hodgkins lymphoma and other illnesses.
Any relatively healthy adult between 16 and 30 can sign up for a painless test with Anthony Nolan. Young men are particularly good donors and more are needed.
Older donors can register through DKMS, formerly Delete Blood Cancer, who take people aged 17 to 55.
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