Hopes that 2019 could be year a stem cell match is found for Sunderland girl Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray with one of the DKMS swab kits used to find stem cell donors
Chloe Gray with one of the DKMS swab kits used to find stem cell donors

The family of a Sunderland schoolgirl in desperate need of a stem cell donor has urged people to sign up to a register to help save her life and others.

The call from the loved ones of Chloe Gray comes as the charity which is supporting their search for donors reveals her home city is falling short in numbers of blood stem cell donors compared to elsewhere in the North East.

The family and friends of Chloe Gray together with DKMS Charity, asking people to sign up as potential stem cell doners, in The Brudges on Tuesday. Pictured Jason Gray, Chloe's uncle, Francesca Bowser, her mum, and nurse Danielle Hardy.

The family and friends of Chloe Gray together with DKMS Charity, asking people to sign up as potential stem cell doners, in The Brudges on Tuesday. Pictured Jason Gray, Chloe's uncle, Francesca Bowser, her mum, and nurse Danielle Hardy.

DKMS says people from Sunderland make up just 9.4% of those on its register from the north east region - with more than twice as many women (1,849) signed up to its database, compared to just 692 men.

It also says those who are aged 31 and over (1,782) are more than twice as likely to register as blood stem cell donors compared to those aged 30 and younger, which currently stands at 759.

With someone diagnosed with a blood cancer every 20 minutes in the UK, DKMS is urging more people in the area to sign-up and go on standby to help save a life, with a transplant from a genetically similar person can offer the best treatment and could help give someone in need of a transplant a second chance at life.

DKMS says it has a growing register of over 400,000 donors desperately needs more if a match is to be found for everyone who needs one.

I’m hoping more people will be inspired to register and maybe one of them could be a lifesaver for Chloe or someone else who needs a transplant.

Francesca Bowser

Only one in three people with a blood cancer - and in need of a transplant - will find a matching blood stem cell donor within their own family – two in three need to look outside of this.

Eight-year-old Chloe, from Silksworth, was born with a rare blood disorder called Diamond Blackfan Anaemia (DBA).

This means the Plains Farm Primary School pupil’s body doesn’t produce red blood cells and she needs regular blood transfusions to stay alive.

She has recently developed antibodies in her blood and now urgently needs a blood stem cell donation, but a matching donor has not yet been found and she is relying on a stranger to be her lifesaver, as her parents and siblings are not a match.

Eight-year-old Chloe Gray is in need of a stem cell donation.

Eight-year-old Chloe Gray is in need of a stem cell donation.

Every year, around 2,000 people in the UK, like Chloe, are in need of a blood stem cell transplant.

Chloe, who won the Child of Courage Award at last year’s Best of Wearside ceremony led by the Echo, recently featured in the charity’s latest advertising campaign, urging more people to register with DKMS and potentially save a life.

The Echo is backing the call through our Sign Up For Chloe campaign, which is encouraging people and businesses to get behind the search.

Francesca Bowser, Chloe’s mum, says: “Chloe is like many eight-year-old girls - she loves dressing up as a princess, getting her hair done and spending time with her three siblings. “She’s very brave. If you look at her you might not realise she is fighting a blood disorder.

“It’s such a horrible condition, but she just gets on with it.

“Sadly, her schooling has suffered because she’s had to spend so much time away from school to attend hospital appointments and her condition has caused mobility problems.

“We are calling on people aged 17 and 55 to take that first step in becoming a lifesaver by ordering a home swab kit through DKMS.

“So far thousands have registered with the charity but we’ve still not found a match.

“I’m hoping more people will be inspired to register and maybe one of them could be a lifesaver for Chloe or someone else who needs a transplant.”

Signing up to the register and completing a swab kit takes just minutes, with a pre-paid envelope sent as part of the pack.

Lisa Nugent, head of donor recruitment at DKMS, said: “For a few minutes of your time now to sign up, you could save someone’s life in the future. 
“If you’re aged between 17 and 55 and in general good health, there’s no excuse not to, as it could make all the difference to someone in need of a donation, like Chloe and her family.

“There could be a #LifesaverInYou.”

For more information visit www.dkms.org.uk/en/with-chloe and to follow Chloe’s story visit her Facebook page www.facebook.com/aheroforchloe/.