A mother desperately in need of a bone marrow transplant has issued an urgent plea to help save her life – for the sake of her daughter.
Vanessa Myers was diagnosed with leukaemia last year and has been undergoing chemotherapy.
It has left her very ill and weak and doctors in Leeds now say she needs a bone marrow transplant as soon as possible.
However there is currently no-one on the worldwide register who is a match for her.
Now the mother to 14-year-old Aliyah is urging others to sign up, especially people from mixed race backgrounds as Ms Myers’ heritage means it is more difficult to find a compatible donor.
She said: “This could save my daughter from losing her mother.
“I am in desperate need.
“And if you sign up, you might be able to save someone else’s brother, sister or mother.”
Ms Myers, from Kirkstall, Leeds, became ill last year and visited her doctor several times.
Eventually the 30-year-old became so poorly that she was sent straight to hospital where she was given the devastating news that she had acute myeloid leukaemia, a fast growing and aggressive type of the blood cancer.
“I knew I was in a bad state but I didn’t know it was anything like that,” she said.
“It took a long time for it to sink in.”
Her condition meant that she needed to start treatment the day after diagnosis.
But the three rounds of chemotherapy she has had so far have caused severe allergic reactions and illnesses, include sepsis and double pneumonia, which she has had twice.
The next stage of treatment is a bone marrow transplant, ideally given in the next few weeks, but medics cannot find a match on any register.
Ms Myers is of mixed race Asian background and doctors have told her she has an unusual chromosome.
“When they started looking into it, they found I had a strange chromosome type,” she said.
“I don’t have any full siblings so they can’t help.”
There is a nationwide shortage of donors from black and minority ethnic heritage on the bone marrow registers.
They need to find a good match to ensure the transplant has the best chance of success and it needs to take place soon.
“They want to do it as soon as possible. Because I have got a fast and aggressive cancer, there’s only so long I can go without chemotherapy,” she said.
“They are looking to give me a 99 per cent or 100 per cent match, but no-one is matching to that level.”
She is now calling on everyone – especially people from mixed race backgrounds – to sign up to the register, not just to help her but others in the same position.
“It’s not just for me either, but there are a lot of people out there having the same problem,” Ms Myers added.
“I just want to make people more aware.”
Her father Graham Myers added: “The doctors have indicated that they would prefer to carry out a transplant in three weeks time rather than put her through another course of chemotherapy.
“They have suggested that if a donor cannot be found then stem cells from umbilical cords could be used, although this is not the preferred method as it has a higher risk of rejection.”
Figures from the Anthony Nolan charity show that, currently, only 60 per cent of patients can find the best possible match from a stranger, and this drops dramatically to 20.5 per cent if you’re a patient from a black, Asian or ethnic minority background.
“By building and diversifying our register we will be able provide the best match to even more people with blood cancer,” is said.
Some 90 per cent of donations take place via peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) collection. This is a procedure similar to giving blood.
It takes around 5 hours, and is a simple outpatients procedure.
Different registers in the UK have differing eligibility criteria to join.
Check and sign up to the registers via the websites www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/bonemarrow, www.anthonynolan.org or www.deletebloodcancer.org.uk.