Arya Lloyd's surgeon father has launched a world-wide hunt to find a stem cell donor for his 12-year-old daughter in a bid to save her life after Covid-19 dramatically reduced the number of donors coming forward.
The seriously ill 12-year-old first complained of stomach pains back in May this year. At first, her parents thought they were growing pains but when the pains failed to go away, Arya was referred to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London where she was diagnosed with blood disorder aplastic anaemia.
But when doctors revealed her best chance of survival is through a blood stem transplant – her parents father Geraint, 45 and Brundha, 47, were told as donors they wouldn’t be a good enough match.
At best, they would only be a 50% match and Ayra needs a 10/10 match – and in ordinary circumstances the best match would be a sibling but as an only child, her hope lies with a stranger.
So the hunt in on to find a match – but with lockdown restrictions amid the global health pandemic, the family is struggling to find a donor as there has been a reduction in the number of people coming forward to donate their stem cells.
Speaking to the Press Association, her father Geraint, a consultant general surgeon at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage, said, “Our world was turned on its head when we were given Arya’s devastating diagnosis.
“It is with us always, and we’re doing all we can to provide her with a second chance of life.
“I am a surgeon who has spent half my life looking after people with serious medical problems and cancer, but nothing prepares you for this. The world is a very different place now we know Arya is so unwell.”
Who would make a good stem cell match for Arya Lloyd?
It’s not just coronavirus pandemic which is making the search tricky. Arya’s mixed heritage – being Indian and Caucasian – makes the search for a donor even more challenging.
Mrs Lloyd has family in America and India, so they’ve launched a global hunt to find a match and DKMS has branches in both countries too so they’ve teamed up to find a suitable donor.
With the UK’s diverse population, patients from a black, Asian or other minority background only have a 20% chance of finding the best possible stem cell donor match, compared to 69% from northern European backgrounds, DKMS said.
Mr Lloyd added, “We’re at the mercy of others right now. We need their support.”
DKMS is seeking potential blood stem cell donors from all backgrounds.
If you are aged between 17 and 55 and in good general health, you can support Arya and the other 2,000 people in need of a lifesaving transplant by registering online here for a home swab kit.