One-year-old Phoebe from Birmingham was diagnosed with leukaemia at only seven months old. After unsuccessful chemotherapy, her recovery now depends on finding a stem cell donor match. If a match is found, she will be the youngest person in the world to receive a stem cell transplant.
Two donor rallies are being held by Phoebe’s family in the hopes of finding this match, to encourage members of the public to sign up to the donor register. The stem cells required can be taken from peripheral blood or bone marrow.
Currently, the youngest person to receive a stem cell transplant is a two-year-old American, but doctors in the UK believe that – if a donor is found – they could also carry out a successful transplant on baby Phoebe.
Although Phoebe’s case may sound unusual, it’s unfortunately common for leukaemia patients to face a long waiting list for treatment. Every 14 minutes it’s estimated that someone is diagnosed with this blood cancer, leaving over 2,000 people in the UK in need of a stem cell transplant each year.
For many parents, this is the reason to store stem cells privately. Storing umbilical cord blood at birth provides your child with a sample of 100% DNA matched stem cells, which can be used to treat leukaemia. This sample also has a 25% chance of matching a sibling.