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Our girl fought for life on a ventilator to survive coronavirus – now stem cell donor is her only chance to beat cancer

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THE parents of a seven-year-old girl with a rare type of blood cancer are fighting to save her life as she continues to recover from Covid-19.

Little Sophie has acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and a stem cell transplant is the youngster’s only chance of survival.

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Anthony Nolan

Little Sophie needs a stem cell transplant in order to survive [/caption]

Sophie, who lives in Northampton with her family, was diagnosed with the illness in June 2017 when she was just four-years-old.

In October 2019 she completed her chemotherapy treatment.

Sadly just three months later, her parents were told that her cancer had returned and spread to her central nervous system.

Both Sophie’s vision and mobility has been affected and the seven-year-old now needs a stem cell transplant if she is to be cured.

What is lymphoblastic leukaemia?

Lymphoblastic leukaemia is a type of cancer that affects white blood cells

It is an illness that progresses quickly and needs immediate treatment.

Both adults and children can be affected but it is a rare condition and around 790 people in the UK are diagnosed with it each year.

Most cases develop in children and in young adults.

NHS England says: “Although it is rare, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is the most common type of leukaemia that affects children.

“About 85 per cent of the cases that affect children happen in those younger than 15 (mostly between the ages of 0 and 5).

“It affects slightly more boys than girls.”

Symptoms could include:

  • feeling tired or breathless
  • pale
  • high temperature
  • night sweats
  • easily bruised skin
  • tummy pain
  • unintentional weight loss

There is currently no one on the stem cell register that is a match for Sophie.

To add to the family’s stressful situation little Sophie also contracted Covid-19.

Sophie has been receiving treatment to fight her leukaemia.

This combined with the treatment for Covid-19 meant Sophie became seriously ill and had to be placed in an induced coma.

Anthony Nolan

Unfortunately Sophie’s little sister isn’t a match and the family are appealing for people to join the stem cell register [/caption]

Mum Emily said after a few days of her leukaemia treatment, Sophie started to have breathing difficulties and her condition deteriorated.

“After six days of the new treatment, her breathing had deteriorated so much that she had to be ventilated and put into an induced coma,” she said.

“The doctors think that Sophie’s condition is likely to have been due to the combined effects of coronavirus and the drug being used to treat her leukaemia.

“Thankfully on day eight, the doctors began to wake Sophie and they were able to remove her ventilator.”

We are all very concerned and worried. The treatment makes Sophie feel very unwell and she also misses her friends and family a lot


EmilySophie's mum

Sophie has now been out of the coma for over five weeks but her recovery is extremely slow and has been tough on her body.

Emily said: “To start with she couldn’t walk and hardly spoke but she can now walk short distances using a frame and her speech has improved a lot.”

At present Sophie is going through a rehab process to help her recover from her induced coma.

Before she can have a stem cell transplant she will need to complete this phase.

How to join the stem cell register

Little Sophie needs a stem cell donor – here's how you can register

You can join the stem cell register online. All you need to do is fill out a registration form and you will be sent out some swabs.

You will need to take some samples, usually from the inside of your mouth and then send them back. As soon as they are received you’ll be added to the register.

You’ll remain on the register until you are 61-years-old.

If you are a match for someone in need charities such as Anthony Nolan will help guide you through the process.

Around 90 per cent of people are able to donate via their blood stream with 10 per cent donating from bone marrow while under general anaesthetic.

To find out more and to register you can visit the below sites:

  • Anthony Nolan
  • DKMS

Emily said: “We are all very concerned and worried. The treatment makes Sophie feel very unwell and she also misses her friends and family a lot.”

The family is now appealing for people to sign up to be part of the stem cell register.

Her little sister is not a match and the charity Anthony Nolan has searched for a donor – but to no avail.

Sophie is mixed race and her ethnicity makes it even harder for her to find a match, her parents explained.

Those receiving a transplant have just a 69 per cent chance of receiving the best possible match.

Lifesaving donations

For people from a BAME (Black, Asian and Ethnic minority) background this chance drops by 20 per cent.

Sophie’s dad, Colin said: “Because Sophie is mixed race, we did suspect that there wouldn’t be a perfect match for her.

“Sophie has found a 9/10 match, which isn’t ideal but is potentially good enough to proceed with transplant, however a 10/10 would give her the best chance.

“It’s so simple and easy to take the first step in joining the register, it’s just a cheek swab.

“You could save a person’s life, not in an indirect way, but by actually being the most important contributor in saving someone’s life. That is something that most people never have the chance to do.”

Anthony Nolan has said it will continue to help Sophie’s family on their journey to find a donor.

Rebecca Pritchard, who leads the Register Development team at Anthony Nolan said: “Every single person who signs up to the register has the potential to give hope to someone who is in desperate need of a lifesaving stem cell transplant.

“We’ll send swab kits in the post which we’d ask to be sent back to us safely, when people are taking their exercise or shopping for food.”

She added that the team are particularly calling on people who have an East Asian background as well as young men aged 16-30.


This she said is due to the fact that young men provide more that 50 per cent of donations but make up just 18 per cent of the register.

The charity recruits people aged 16-30 to the stem cell register.

Research has previously shown that younger people are more likely to donate.

If you want to become a donor and help youngsters like Sophie then you can visit the Anthony Nolan website to find out more.

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