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Mother advocates for blood stem cell donors after her daughter got three WEEKS to find a match

Mother desperately advocates for blood stem cell donors to come forward after her 21-month-old daughter with rare leukemia only got three WEEKS to find a life-saving match

  • Liya Gumusoz has acute myeloid leukemia, a rare and aggressive cancer
  • Doctors said she must undergo a bone marrow transplant in late July to survive
  • She was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London during a pandemic
  • Only 2 percent of the UK population is on the registry of blood stem cell donors

A mother is desperate for blood stem cell donors to come forward after her 21-month-old daughter with rare leukemia was given just three weeks to find a life-saving match.

Liya Gumusoz has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a rare and aggressive cancer that affects one in 3,100 people.

Her parents, Ufuk and Hatice Gumusoz, received the terrible news when doctors said that their first and only child, Liya, must have a bone marrow transplant in late July to survive.

Liya Gumusoz, in the photo, has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a rare and aggressive cancer that affects one in 3,100 people

Liya Gumusoz, in the photo, has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a rare and aggressive cancer that affects one in 3,100 people

Liya’s parents, originally from Turkey but now living in Twickenham, first noticed that something was wrong at the beginning of the year.

Liya got tired faster, lost her appetite, and had unusual bruises on her body.

When Liya started to have a hard time walking, her parents knew something was wrong.

Mrs. Gumosoz said, “It was a Sunday morning, she woke up screaming again and couldn’t move at all.”

After searching online for possible reasons, Ms. Gumosoz discovered that it could be leukemia.

“I was praying it wasn’t leukemia,” said a tearful Mrs. Gumosoz. “Until then she was perfectly fine.”

Ms. Gumosoz said she has spent only nine nights at home in the past three months, while Liya has undergone several tests and scans in the hospital.

Liya was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London when the pandemic broke out, meaning only one parent was allowed to see their daughter.

Ufuk and Hatice Gumusoz photographed with their 21-month-old daughter Liya

Ufuk and Hatice Gumusoz photographed with their 21-month-old daughter Liya

Ufuk and Hatice Gumusoz photographed with their 21-month-old daughter Liya

The concerned couple waited terribly for news of their daughter’s condition, but their worst nightmares were realized when a hematologist confirmed that Liya has leukemia.

Mrs. Gumosoz said, “I couldn’t breathe, it felt like my heart had been stabbed over and over.

“I just sobbed, just wanted to leave the room and hug my baby.”

Liya started chemotherapy, but it’s not enough to beat the leukemia.

Due to the aggressiveness of the cancer, her only chance of survival is to find a blood stem cell donor.

Only two percent of the UK’s population is on the registry of blood stem cell donors, and the number of people signing up as potential donors has fallen dramatically due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Currently, no one in the registry is a genetically good match with Liya.

Ms Gumosoz said, “I know it’s a difficult time we’re going through with all this blocking, but all these kids need blood transfusions and they really only need basic help.

“People have to donate, it’s just their blood, their stem cells, it’s a very simple procedure.

“It only takes a few hours to do it and you can save one person’s life.

“It can save her, she will never survive.”

If you are between 17 and 55 years of age and are generally in good health, you can request a home swab kit to become a potential blood stem cell donor here.

WHAT IS ACUTE MYELOID LEUKEMIA?

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a type of blood cancer that starts in young white blood cells in the bone marrow.

AML affects about one in 200 men and one in 255 women in the UK at some point in their lives.

Approximately 19,500 new cases occur in the U.S. each year.

It is usually diagnosed in older people.

Symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Frequent infections
  • Bruising or bleeding easily, including nosebleeds or heavy periods
  • Weight loss
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Breathlessness
  • Swollen belly
  • Pale skin

The exact cause of AML is unclear, but the risks include:

  • To smoke
  • Being overweight
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Previous chemotherapy
  • Certain blood disorders, such as myelodysplastic syndrome
  • Some immune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis

AML is usually treated through chemotherapy. A bone marrow or stem cell transplant may be needed.

Source: Cancer Research UK

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