The family of a Sunderland girl battling a rare blood disorder have appealed for a ‘hero’ to help save her.
Chloe Gray suffers from a condition known as Diamond Blackfan Anaemia, which affects just 700 people in the world.
It means the six-year-old is reliant on blood transfusions and her only chance of a cure and a normal childhood is for a stem cell transplant.
But, sadly, there is no match for the Disney-mad youngster on the donor register - leaving her family hoping there is someone out there who can help their ‘princess’.
Chloe’s three siblings Tye, 11, Millie, nine, and two-year-old Freddie are not matches for the youngster, meaning she is reliant on a complete stranger to step forward.
The Plains Farm Academy pupil, who has blood transfusions every three to four weeks, is currently being supported by the blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan who are also trying to find the little girl a match.
Finding a donor would mean she gets quality of life back.Francesca Bowser
In a further bid to boost her chances, her parents Francesca and Craig Bowser have also launched their own social media appeal by taking to Twitter using the hashtag #AHeroForChloe and to encourage more people to join the Anthony Nolan register.
Because of her illness, Chloe has spent the summer holiday in hospital and until staff at the school where she intends to go undergo training in the use of specialist equipment, she is unable to join her friends in the classroom.
Her mum Francesca said: “Finding a donor would mean she gets quality of life back – she can’t swim, go on rides, or do normal things that her brothers and sister can.
“We want to give her back some of the childhood that she’s missed.
“Chloe’s brothers and sister know she’s different and that they have to be careful with her.
“They’re used to trips to hospital and Chloe’s feeding tube – her older sister is especially good with her.
“Chloe amazes us every day with how brave she is. She loves fairy tales - now it’s time to find a hero for our princess!”
Before she was born, Chloe had to battle for survival after a 20-week scan revealed she had fluid in all her vital organs. Tests showed little Chloe was severely anaemic, and at 22 weeks she underwent her first blood transfusion while still in the womb.
Her second life-saving transfusion took place when Francesca was 28 weeks pregnant. And after being born five weeks premature, weighing just 4lbs 10oz, the tot had to have a full blood exchange, which saw all of the blood removed from her body and replaced, to keep her alive.
Diamond Blackfan Anaemia means the bone marrow does not produce red blood cells properly. It can be treated with blood transfusions, steroids, or a stem cell transplant.
The transfusions have left Chloe with an unnaturally high build-up of iron in her body, which has to be dissipated with a pump that is attached to her 24 hours a day. At the same time, Chloe is anaemic, and has to be tube-fed seven times a day. A stem cell transplant would mean Chloe’s bone marrow is replaced with healthy, donated bone marrow and she would no longer be reliant on blood transfusions.
The sooner Chloe finds a donor the sooner the life-changing transplant can take place.
Francesca added: “Donating stem cells is such an easy thing to do. It’s not just Chloe; there are lots of people out there that need a match. Chloe’s granddad donated to someone a few years ago and he said it’s so easy and rewarding.”
Lynsey Dickson, Anthony Nolan’s Regional Register Development Manager for the North East, said: “Brave little Chloe urgently needs a hero to be her stem cell donor and help her enjoy a normal childhood. We are asking people in the North East to join the donor register and help give people like Chloe a second chance at life.”
Anyone aged 16-30, weighing at least 50kg and in good health can join the Anthony Nolan register. The charity will send a ‘spit kit’ in the post to test a sample of the donor’s saliva and inform them if they are a match for someone in need of a stem cell transplant.
For ninety per cent of people who are asked to donate, the straightforward process is similar to an extended blood donation. Ten per cent will be asked to donate via bone marrow under general anaesthetic.
To join the register visit www.anthonynolan.org.