Jan 1 2014
The parents of a seriously ill girl have called for people to consider becoming bone marrow donors when they make their new year's resolutions, saying it could have the potential to save their daughter's life.
Seven year-old Rhiane Francois is undergoing chemotherapy to treat leukaemia - b ut if the drugs are not effective she will need a bone marrow transplant.
Because the youngster has Mauritian and Asian heritage it could be hard to pair her to a donor as a matching donor is most likely to come from a similar ethnic background, blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan said.
Her parents Tanisha and Jean-Claude, from Whitley, near Coventry, have called on potential donors to sign up to the charity's bone marrow register.
"When Rhiane was diagnosed, our world turned upside down and it felt like someone had stabbed me in the heart," Rhiane's mother Tanisha said.
"You just never think that something like this is going to happen to your child.
"If Rhiane needs a bone marrow transplant, we will need to find a matching donor quickly to save her life.
"That's why we are urging everyone eligible to join Anthony Nolan's bone marrow register now, especially people from ethnic minorities. You could be a matching donor for Rhiane or someone else out there who desperately needs a transplant."
The youngster was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in September last year.
Doctors at Birmingham Children's Hospital, where she is being treated, have warned that if her course of chemotherapy does not work she will need a bone marrow transplant.
Anthony Nolan is scouring its register to see whether there is a suitable match. But the charity warned that it "urgently" needs people from black, Asian and other ethnic minority backgrounds to come forward because ethnic minority donors are "under-represented" on the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register.
The seven-year-old will find out in February whether she needs a transplant.
"It's hard to think of a more worthwhile new year's resolution than signing up to save the life of a stranger in their time of need, and unlike many resolutions, it's so simple to do," said Bhaveshree Chandegra, Asian campaign recruitment manager at Anthony Nolan.
"Joining the bone marrow register is very easy and many people don't realise that donating is so straightforward - in 90% of cases, it's a similar procedure to giving blood."
Dr Mark Velangi, consultant paediatric haematologist at Birmingham Children's Hospital, said: "We know from first-hand experience the difficulty we can face in the search for donors from ethnic minority backgrounds and are so proud of Rhiane and her family for continuing to raise awareness of bone marrow donation."
:: People aged 16 to 30 in good health can visit www.anthonynolan.org in order to sign up to the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register.