Search for donor hero to save seriously ill Sunderland girl

Plains Farm Academy pupil Chloe Gray. Photo by her grandad Graeme Bowser.
Plains Farm Academy pupil Chloe Gray. Photo by her grandad Graeme Bowser.

The search is on to find a hero to help save the life of a Sunderland schoolgirl whose time is running out due to a rare blood disorder.

Chloe Gray has the bone marrow failure disorder Diamond Blackfan Anaemia (DBA) and had to undergo her first transfusion while she was still in the womb.

Chloe as she was still in special care as a newborn.

Chloe as she was still in special care as a newborn.

Now the seven-year-old’s body is beginning to build up antibodies against donors’ blood, which means while the procedure is essential to keep her alive every three weeks, it is also making her unwell.

The only answer to make her better is a stem cell donation, with the hunt on to find a match through her family’s #aheroforchloe campaign.

It hass already won celebrity backing from Sir Tim Rice and Lorraine Kelly via Twitter, with a recruitment drive to find a lifesaver for her and others in need of a transplant to go into her school, Plains Farm Academy, and The Bridges, with more events in the pipeline.

Her mum Francesca Bowser, 27, dad Craig Bowser, 33, brother Freddie Bowser, two, sister Millie Gray, 10, and step brother Tye Bowser, 12, and other family have been tested and have not been found to be a match.

We came up with the hashtag #aheroforchloe because we’ve been to Disney before through Make a Wish because she loves her Disney characters and heroes.

Francesca Bowser

A simple mouth swab could hold the key to find the person who could help Chloe, from Silksworth, with the efforts being supported by blood cancer charity DKMS, which keeps a register of potential donors aged up to 55-years-old.

Francesca has had to leave work as a home carer and Craig his job as an energy consultant to help look after their girl, who loves dressing up and putting on make up and perfume.

Symptoms of DBA, which affects around 1,000 people world wide, include fatigue, poor growth, lack of appetite and a pale complexion, with Chloe’s low immune system also causing concern.

Francesca said: “It’s very hard for Chloe when she’s feeling unwell.

A poorly Chloe undergoes treatment for her condition.

A poorly Chloe undergoes treatment for her condition.

“We came up with the hashtag #aheroforchloe because we’ve been to Disney before through Make a Wish because she loves her Disney characters and heroes.

“Now we need to find one to help her.

“She’s really good when she goes to hospital, but the problem is we can’t continue with the blood donations for much longer because she’s started to develop antibodies and her body will fight it.

“If we find a possible match then they have to undergo further tests.

Millie Gray, Freddie Bowser and Tye Bowser with Chloe Gray.

Millie Gray, Freddie Bowser and Tye Bowser with Chloe Gray.

“A certain match would be 10 out of 10 markers or nine of 10 on the markers through the DNA check and they obviously want to find the best one for her to get the best result.

“We know of a friend who has been called up after they were a match and this could also help save someone else’s life.”

Anyone found a match can give blood, which will then be processed to filter out the cells need, with the rest returned to the donor.

Another way to harvest the cells is through the hip bone, but this can prove more difficult and painful.

Chloe undergoes her blood transfusions - now more than 100 in total - at Sunderland Royal Hospital, with the Royal Victoria Infirmary, a Birmingham Hospital and St Mary’s in Hampton, London, also involved in her treatment.

In addition to DBA she also has hyper-mobility, severe gastric reflux and problems with her spine, which leaves her in pain and in need of strong drugs.

Francesca is full of praise for Chloe’s school, which offers her help with a teaching assistant, and is also helping her family pass on the message about the search for donors through and event for children and their own loved ones.

The Bridges event will be held throughout the day on Monday, October 9.

More details about the campaign can be found via https://www.facebook.com/aheroforchloe/.