A five-year-old girl with a rare blood disorder is desperately seeking a life-saving stem cell donor.
Emilia Mackay was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia in May after her parents noticed unusual bruising and a rash.
The condition means her bone marrow does not make enough new blood cells, leaving her tired and more prone to infections and uncontrolled bleeding.
The youngster must undergo painful weekly blood and platelet transfusions – but these are only a short-term fix.
A stem cell transplant from a stranger is her best hope of a cure.
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Emilia’s dad James, 38, said the diagnosis came completely out of the blue. He added: “It’s really urgent. If she doesn’t have the platelet and blood transfusions then she will die.
“We need to find someone who’s a match so that we can basically try and resurrect her bone marrow so she can live a normal life.”
Emilia lives with James, her mum Steph and 10-year-old sister Ellie in Redditch, near Birmingham. She loves attending dance and drumming lessons but her illness means she often misses activities and school.
Transfusions can only treat her condition temporarily, as receiving too many can lead to severe liver damage.
James said his daughter has struggled with having needles repeatedly inserted. He explained: “Nobody likes needles but because of her condition, her veins are retreating into her body as well. She found that quite traumatising.”
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A transplant would see Emilia’s damaged blood cells replaced with healthy ones. Nine in ten donations are made via a method similar to giving blood, while one in ten are collected directly from bone marrow under general anaesthetic.
Emilia’s family was tested but none were a suitable match, so they are working with charity DKMS to appeal for more donors to come forward.
James said: “If you’re aged between 17 and 55, and reasonably fit and healthy, then please sign up.
“You could save someone’s life. It might not be Emilia’s but you could save someone and it’s an easy thing to do.”
More than 2,500 people need a stem cell transplant each year in the UK but the donor register does not meet demand.
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DKMS UK country manager Hasnein Alidina said: “Facing the reality of not being a matching donor for your own child, as in Emilia’s case, is an incredibly challenging situation for families.
“Unfortunately, this is a reality experienced by families worldwide every day.
“This is why DKMS has registered over 980,000 donors and is constantly working to register more to give patients like Emilia a better chance at finding a match.”
You can find out more about the stem cell register here.
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