5 April 2017
14-year-old Zara was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in 2014, aged just 11. After going into remission, her leukaemia returned in 2016 and Zara’s parents were told that their daughter urgently needed a blood stem cell donation. After her #MatchForZara appeal which showed a huge response from the public, a match was found and the donation went ahead. Almost one year on, Zara has now returned to school on a reduced timetable while studying for her GCSEs.
Here, her mum, Kerensa, has told Zara’s story:
“Zara was diagnosed with AML, with potential MDS, in March 2014 and received four rounds of intensive chemotherapy at Southampton General Hospital. The need for a bone marrow transplant was discussed but no matching donor could be found through family or the registers.
Obviously this was a horrendous time for all of us and we were so grateful when Zara appeared to go into remission after the chemotherapy schedule was completed.
She was well for the following year and just as we were starting to move forward and relax a bit, Zara became unwell again in January 2016. Her Leukaemia had returned and this time they confirmed Zara had MDS with a very rare GATA 2 gene abnormality.
She desperately required a bone marrow transplant to survive and after the last search proved unsuccessful we were desperately worried for her. Thankfully through DKMS and Anthony Nolan a bone marrow donor was identified from South America. It was a 9 out of 10 match and as good as we would be able to find for her.
We had a fantastic donor drive with DKMS in Winchester in April 2016 and managed to get over 900 people signed up to the register.
Zara received her transplant in May 2016 and had amazing care through UCLH in London. Zara had a few setbacks with infections post transplant, the worse time required intensive care treatment after she developed Glandular Fever in August 2016.
We are now approaching the anniversary of her transplant and we are so happy and thankful to all the people who got Zara here today, especially her amazing and selfless donor. We hope one day to be able to thank them in person for the gift of life they gave Zara. Please sign up to the register if you can. You never know when or if this could happen to you or one of your family members. Life is so precious.”
Kerensa – Zara’s mum