Family of 18-month-old leukaemia patient from Bristol offering £20,000 for successful stem cell match
Little Elaiya has a rare cancer - and is running out of time
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The family of an 18-month-old leukaemia patient from Bristol are swabbing the community - and offering £20K for a successful stem cell or bone marrow match.
Little Elaiya Hameed was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in June.
It’s a rare cancer that can only be cured by stem cell collection or bone marrow donation - most likely someone who someone who shares her Pakistani heritage.
Grandfather Mazhar Iqbal says the family are offering £20,000 to a suitable donor as Elaiya is ‘running out of time’.
He said: “We are offering to turn the world upside down to help my granddaughter. This is a matter of life and death.
“We are also hoping this financial incentive will encourage people to sign up to complete the very easy blood transfusion.
“It’s simpler than a covid test and takes barely time at all, we just need people to click on the link and sign up.
“The money will change their life if they can change my granddaughter’s.
“The biggest problem for Elaiya is purely not enough Asian, ethnic minorities or south Asian country’s people being on the donor list. They just don’t go on it.”
On the Instagram campaign page her parents, Summan and Muzahir Hameed, wrote: “We’ve just been informed by doctors that Elaiya falls into the ‘high risk’ group, this means the standard course of treatment (chemotherapy) isn’t sufficient to help her fight this successfully.
“We’ve begun the search for a bone marrow donor and we desperately need your help.
“Our daughter has the spirit of a fighter; Elaiya melts the hearts of all those who meet her.”
Mr Iqbal said the whole family have been “devastated” since finding out about Elaiya’s diagnosis seven weeks ago.
The family have now joined forces with Anthony Nolan charity, who help make connections between patients and strangers ready to donate their stem cells - and hold a bank for under 30-year-olds for stem cell donors.
The family managed to arrange a surgery in their hometown of Bristol where over 200 people showed up for swab tests.
In total, they were able to process 198 positive registrations in the four-hour swab test clinic - which is the second highest the charity has ever recorded.
Two were found to be positive matches for other cancer patients looking for donors, but sadly a match has still not been found for Elaiya.
The family are visiting cities around the country to complete further surgeries, in hopes they will find her match before it’s too late.
They are hosting a surgery in Birmingham today (July 12) and one in Nottingham on July 24.
Mr Iqbal added that the statistics for cancer-patients of Asian and BAME descent are less likely to be successful in finding a donor, purely due to the amount of people on the register.
He explained: “For Asian and BAME communities, the ratio of finding a match for a stem cell donor in the UK is less than 30%.
“Whereas an English person has a chance of 90% and above of finding match”.
“We just haven’t got enough people from our communities registered, but finding out now that so many individuals are starting to register since we began the campaign is amazing.
“My granddaughter is obviously touching heats and waking people up.”
Elaiya has been receiving care at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham and just just finished her first round of chemotherapy.
Mr Iqbal said: “We were able to take her out for a day to Hyde Park with the family.
“Elaiya has got very low immunity levels at the moment so we weren’t allowed to mix too closely with her, but she is back at the hospital starting round two of chemo.
“Chemotherapy is hard enough but for an 18-month-old baby it’s unimaginable. It just means finding a match is critical.”
Mr Iqbal says he won’t be able to see his granddaughter for three to four weeks now, but her parents will be able to visit her in hospital.
He added: “Our campaign is working but we just have to keep going and finding the match for Elaiya.
“If through her we find matches for other patients that’s amazing anyway - as we have done - because saving someone’s life is incredible.
“But the main goal is to safe her’s as well, she means the world to us.”
Dr Suhail Asghar, Clinical Directorate, NHS Blood and Transplant, said fewer people from BAME communities register to donate stem cells in the UK.
“We do not have awareness in the BAME community about how important it is to become a bone marrow donor, so it is not being promoted, until the issue is faced,” he said.
“The chances of success in children of having a normal life after a bone marrow transplant is between 80 to 90%,” he added.
The links for registrations are:
Under 30-year-olds: https://www.anthonynolan.org/help-save-a-life/join-stem-cell-register
For up to 55 years olds - https://www.dkms.org.uk/