Festive shoppers could hold the key to saving a little girl’s life.
Visitors to Friday night’s Christmas lights switch-on in Pallion are being asked to complete a mouth swab which could potentially change the life of seven-year-old Chloe Gray from Silksworth.
The Plains Farm Primary School pupil suffers from a condition known as Diamond Blackfan Anaemia, which affects just 700 people in the world, meaning she is reliant on blood transfusions for survival.
Her only hope of a cure is for a blood stem cell transplant and her family, who are not a match, have launched a huge drive to help find a donor.
Touched by their plight, Pallion Traders Association are asking people who come along to the switch on to call into Rowlands Pharmacy in St Lukes Terrace and Hope Springs, in the former job centre, to take part in a mouth swab.
The swabs take only a few minutes to complete - and don’t involve any needles - but it’s a few minutes which could give Chloe the normal life she craves.
Richard Downey, chairman at Pallion Traders Association, said: “This is very much an event for local people. Last year we had a superb response to the switch on and we’re expecting around 2,000 people to come along this year. One of those people could be the match that Chloe needs.”
Chloe will also be a special guest at the switch on and will be flicking the switch with Father Christmas.
As well as helping Chloe, the swab drive can helps others in need on the blood stem cell waiting list.
Details gathered by Friday’s event will be added to the register by national charity DKMS who have teamed up with Chloe’s family in the fight against blood cancer.
The event is part of ongoing efforts by the family who have set up pop up stalls elsewhere in the city, including at The Bridges.
Chloe’s uncle Jason Gray, 23, said: “Since we launched the drive we’ve had around 1,000 people join the register which is amazing. It gives us so much hope for Chloe, but this doesn’t just help her, it helps anyone in need of blood stem cells.
“The biggest misconception people have is that it involves a needle, but it’s just a mouth swab and only takes a minute. Even if you are a match you’ll be contacted to see if you want to donate, you don’t have to sign anything just yet.”
l The Pallion Christmas Lights Switch On, organised in conjunction with St Lukes Neighbourhood Centre, Pallion Action Group, Parker Trust and Hope Church, will take place from 5.15pm on Friday with bands and choirs performing. The switch on with Chloe and Father Christmas will be at 6pm. There will also be a live nativity in Pallion Action Group.