A seven-year-old with leukaemia is urging more people to register as donors with blood cancer charity DKMS.

Alpana and Sumit Kharb’s world fell apart when their daughter Aashna, 7, was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). 

Aashna’s symptoms began with bone pain in her legs, causing her to limp and severely affecting her mobility. After approximately a month of medical visits, her bone marrow was found to have 90%+ cancer cells.

Since diagnosis Aashna – who loves to read and often gets selected as her class ‘Reading Hero’ at school – has had three cycles of intense chemotherapy, two cycles of immunotherapy and has now started a two-year chemotherapy cycle known as maintenance. 

If Aashna successfully finishes her treatment, she and her parents will still live in constant fear of relapse. So, Aashna’s family are working with blood cancer charity DKMS to encourage more to register as potential stem cell donors.

Asian Image: Seven-year-old with leukaemia urge more people to register as donors with blood cancer charity DKMS

Mum Alpana said: “We hope she never needs a stem cell transplant, but if she did relapse, a stem cell transplant could be her only hope.

“So, we want as many people to sign up as possible. Sumit and I are of Indian heritage, so we would especially love to see as many people as possible from our community sign up to the DKMS register – not just so we don’t have to worry about Aashna finding a match if she ever needed one, but for everyone else who might need a stem cell transplant.”

DKMS holds the UK’s largest stem cell register, with over a million active registered donors. But there’s still a long way to go to meet the demand for potentially lifesaving stem cell donors. 

Patients from minority ethnic backgrounds only have a 37% chance of finding a matching donor on the stem cell register, compared to 72% for those from white European backgrounds.

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Anyone can register with DKMS as a potential stem cell donor at dkms.org.uk if you are aged 17—55 years who is in general good health can sign up to receive a simple mouth swab kit that potential donors can do at home and send back to DKMS for processing.  

DKMS spokesperson Deborah Hyde, said: “Every year, thousands of people in the UK rely on a generous stranger registering as a stem cell donor with DKMS to give them a second chance at life. 

“Let’s help make sure Aashna’s family have peace of mind, and that Aashna can continue to enjoy doing all the things she loves, like craft activities and singing in her school choir: getting registered is a great, positive thing to do this holiday season for blood cancer patients everywhere.”