30 April 2020
Livia is two years old, and was diagnosed with leukaemia just a month ago. In an emotional conversation, we spoke to Livia’s mum, Olive, about her ‘happy and cheeky’ little girl, and how the family has reacted to the devastating diagnosis as they urgently seek a perfect stranger to give Livia a second chance at life.
Livia was first taken to the doctor back in February after suffering from a high temperature, and complaining of pains in her arms and legs. Gradually, the pain got worse, until Livia became so uncomfortable she refused to walk.
Four weeks ago, and after extensive tests, Livia’s parents received heartbreaking news – little Livia had Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) – a rare and aggressive blood cancer that affects around 3,100 people each year in the UK.
Livia’s mum, Olive, said: “There are no words to describe how we felt when we received the news. I could not breathe when I heard the “L” word, and immediately I felt a knife going into my heart, stabbing me constantly, and then the knife was being twisted over and over again.”
“Livia is the most precious thing in our lives, and she has brought nothing but joy. This is the worst torture anyone could experience, and we feel like we are living in a nightmare. I have never known pain like this and I pray so hard that it is not happening to my precious Livia.”
Doctors have told the family that Livia’s best chance of beating the disease is to receive an urgent bone marrow transplant. Therefore Livia needs to find her ‘genetic twin’ – a perfect stranger with identical tissue type, who can give her a second chance at life.
She joins the other 2,000 UK patients each year who are also waiting for their lifesaving match.
Olive said: “Livia is a happy and cheeky 2-year-old who loves swimming, drawing, going to playgrounds, and dancing and singing to songs. She loves spending time with her friends at the nursery and always comes home with a smile. Livia has always had a very special bond with our dog Roxy, and she calls her “Roxy, my baby”.”
“She does not understand why she is in hospital. She has started saying “I love you, mummy” without being prompted.”
“I have seen how much love there is out there when people heard about Livia. We feel grateful that there are so many people who want to help, despite the current climate.”
Every 14 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer or a blood disorder, such as leukaemia, myeloma or lymphoma, and sometimes a blood stem cell donation is the only treatment method to help give someone a second chance of life. Blood cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death in the UK, but less than half of the UK population is aware of blood cancer issues.
People from of a black, Asian or ethnic minority background are particularly underrepresented on the UK’s aligned blood stem cell register, with non-white people having only a 20% chance of finding their match, versus 69% for white, North-Europeans.
Given Livia’s mixed heritage, half German and half Chinese, this makes it even more important to Livia’s family for as many people as possible to come forward and join the register with DKMS.
Olive said: “Every registration gives hope to all the families who are experiencing this awful illness. The simple act of signing up could lead to the most incredible act of generosity….the gift of life. Nobody deserves to go through what we’re going through”.
How you can help
If you’d like to register as a potential blood stem cell donor you can check your eligibility and request a home swab kit today.
Anyone aged between 17-55 and in general good health can go on standby as a potential lifesaver. If you're not eligible or you're already registered, why not check the other ways to get involved in the fight against blood cancer or help us cover donor registration costs?