Surgeon Geraint Lloyd, from Cambridge, recently joined forces with our newest celebrity supporter, actress Priya Davdra, to raise awareness of his 12-year-old daughter’s appeal to find a blood stem cell donor.
Arya first started complaining to her parents of stomach pains in May. Geraint and wife Brundha originally put these down to general growing pains. But when the problems continued into June, Arya was referred to St Mary’s Hospital – in Paddington - where she was diagnosed with a life-threatening blood disorder - aplastic anaemia.
Geraint said: “Our world was turned on its head when we were given Arya’s devastating diagnosis. It is with us always, and we’re doing all we can to provide her with a second chance of life.
“I am a surgeon who has spent half my life looking after people with serious medical problems and cancer, but nothing prepares you for this. The world is a very different place now we know Arya is so unwell.”
Arya was told her best chance of life would come from a blood stem cell transplant. Often, a patient’s first route is from a transplant from a sibling. However, as an only child, this option isn’t available to Arya. Her best hope now is through a blood stem cell transplant from a stranger, and now joins the 2,000 people each year in the UK searching for an unrelated donor.
Sadly, Arya’s mixed heritage - half Indian and half Caucasian – makes her search excruciatingly challenging to find a blood stem cell donor.
Patients from a black, Asian or other minority backgrounds have a 20% chance of finding the best possible stem cell donor match, compared to 69% from northern European backgrounds. However, just 7% of people on our UK database are of Indian origin and only 0.6% of people are mixed white British/Indian.
Arya’s campaign is being supported by actress Priya Davdra, who is working with DKMS to urge more people, particularly those from Asian communities, to sign up as potential blood stem cell donors.
Priya, who has a major role in one of the UK’s biggest soaps, said: “It broke my heart when I heard about Arya’s situation. To think what she and her family must be going through is just so awful. But the fact is there is something we can all do to help. And that something is just so simple.”
“Hearing stories of families in such desperate need, along with the shockingly low numbers of registrations from the Asian community, made me realise I needed to do something to help. So I registered as a potential lifesaver with DKMS. I am honoured to be a DKMS Ambassador and to lend my voice to Arya’s campaign in the hopes we can find her, and the many people like her, a lifesaving donor.”
Priya has committed to doing all she can to help raise awareness of Arya’s appeal and the work of DKMS, and we are planning more activities with her next year.
So far over 7,000 have registered with DKMS following Arya’s public appeal, but a match hasn’t been found yet.
Geraint said: “We’re at the mercy of others right now. We need their support. We need the public to register in their droves, but we also plead to everyone who has already ordered a kit to please remember to post it back to DKMS.”
If you are aged between 17-55 and in good general health, please register for your home swab kit today at www.dkms.org.uk/arya. You’ll then join a group of over 758,000 other lifesavers-in-waiting, each ready to make a difference by giving someone a much-needed second chance of life.