A LITTLE Kaiya Patel is in a race against time to find a stem cell donor to save her life.
The adorable five-year-old is battling a rare form of leukaemia and has just two months to find a match.
@ANNU PATEL Little Kaiya has a rare type of leukaemia and has just two months to find a bone marrow donor
But her parents fear they won’t be able to find a donor because Kaiya is Asian – none of her family members were a match and because of her ethnicity she has just a 20.5 per cent chance of finding one.
Kaiya has acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), a rare type of blood cancer that starts in the white blood cells.
Around 810 people in the UK are diagnosed with ALL each year.
The disease first appeared as bruises on Kaiya’s legs, and when the family finally got her diagnosis in March this year it was “like a punch in the stomach”.
@ANNU PATEL Kaiya was diagnosed with cancer after developing bruises on her legs
Dad Ruchit Patel, from Northwood in London, said: “Family life was bliss. We’re a really loving family with two girls who adore each other.
“The girls were looking forward to, one day being at school together and we were getting ready for our holiday.
“Kaiya had some bruising which we wanted to get checked out before flying.
“We honestly thought it was nothing serious and took Kaiya to hospital so we could fly without worry.
@ANNU PATEL Kaiya pictured with her dad Ruchit, mum Annu and sister Annika
“To be told that Kaiya had leukaemia was like a punch in the stomach.”
Kaiya was taken from Watford General to Great Ormond Street Hospital, where she spent four weeks receiving treatment, including chemotherapy.
She is now back at home while her parents anxiously wait to find a bone marrow donor.
Once a full of life little girl who loved swimming, gymnastics and art, Kaiya is now in and out of doctors’ appointments.
@ANNU PATEL None of Kaiya’s family are a match as a stem cell donor
Ruchit, 37, says: “Kaiya holds her beads of courage, each bead represents a procedure or something she has had to endure.
“She is already half way through her second string and we hope she can look back at this and be proud of how much she has had to go through.
“The drugs and treatment has taken a significant impact, and she is very tired – but she is coping with it all and continues to look after her little sister.
“We’re so proud of her.”
Ruchit and his family are asking people to join the stem cell donation register at the Anthony Nolan charity.
A TYPE OF CANCER THAT BEGINS IN WHITE BLOOD CELLS
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is a type of blood cancer.
It starts from young white blood cells called lymphocytes in the bone marrow.
The bone marrow is the soft inner part of the bones, where new blood cells are made.
It is not known what causes the disease.
About 810 people in the UK are diagnosed with ALL each year.
It is most often diagnosed in children, teenagers and young adults.
The age group with the highest incidence is young children aged 0 – 4 years.
Most symptoms are non-specific and vague, but can include:
weakness fatigue fever frequent infections bruising or bleeding easily weight loss swollen lymph nodes pain in the bones or joints shortness of breath pale skin felling full in your abdomen
The main treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is chemotherapy.
You might also have other treatments including a targeted cancer drug or steroids.
Survival rates are generally high, about 70 per cent of people diagnosed survive for five years or more after they are diagnosed.
But survival rates depend heavily on age, fitness, type of cancer and how early it is diagnosed.
Source: Cancer Research UK
Rebecca Pritchard, head of register development at Anthony Nolan said: “Kaiya is an inspirational little girl who, despite everything she is going through is still there being a great big sister to Annika.
“Somewhere out there, there is a potential lifesaver who could help give her a second chance of life. A second chance to be at the same school as her little sister.
“If you’re aged 16-30 you can join the register online and we’ll send you a cheek swab in the post.
“If you’re found to be a match for a patient you could donate your stem cells and give hope to families like Kaiya’s.”