On Sunday 6 December Spinoff@3 celebrated the end of their month-long cycle challenge to raise awareness and vital funds for Arya Lloyd.
Arya, 12, from Cambridge, was diagnosed in July with a life-threatening blood disorder, aplastic anaemia. The rare disease affects around 1 in every million people in the UK.
Arya 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, Paddington, where she was diagnosed with a life-threatening blood disorder, aplastic anaemia. Arya’s parents were told that the best chance of survival for their only child was through a blood stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor.
Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer or blood disorder, such as leukaemia, myeloma or lymphoma and often a blood stem cell donation is the best, and sometimes the only treatment, method to help give someone a second chance of life. Yet, only 2% of the population are registered as potential blood stem cell donors
Sadly, Arya’s search is exacerbated by her ethnicity. She is of mixed Caucasian / Indian heritage. 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.
Worryingly, only 7% of people on DKMS’s UK database are of Indian origin and just 0.6% of people mixed white British/Indian make up their database.
Despite a global search and over 7,400 Brits already coming forward, a match still hasn’t been found for Arya. This prompted Spinoff@3 co-founders: Michael Wallace, a serving police officer who works in Community and Youth Engagement and Ashley Levien to back Arya’s appeal with their Spinoff@3 cycle challenge.
Spinoff@ said: “As soon as we heard of Arya’s appeal we really wanted to get involved. Our Spinoff@3 initiative works well, because it encourages people to cycle, run, walk or use a wheelchair in aid of Arya’s campaign, and they can still observe social distance rules.
“The event concluded at the London Eye on Sunday and it was great to have the support of so many police officers, business people and members of the general public. We set up a GoFundMe page to help DKMS meet registrations costs, and we’re still accepting donations.”
London-based social sports app Sportside sponsored Arya’s appeal by providing free t-shirts. Head of Partnerships Marisa Scullion said: “We live and breathe sport. We know Arya is very sporty too, so we felt it was very important for us to back Spinoff@3’s work to raise awareness and vital funds for DKMS.
“We’re aware that the charity usually hosts public registration events, but the Coronavirus pandemic has made it impossible to hold those. Our t-shirts serve to remind people in the community that patients like Arya are still in desperate need of a blood stem cell donor."
Arya’s dad, Geraint Lloyd, said: “Arya misses school and playing hockey and netball with her friends. Still, she can’t take part in these ‘normal’ activities right now because of her ongoing immunosuppression treatment. If she could, she’d have joined in with Spinoff@3.
“We thank everyone who has already registered to help our little girl, but we humbly ask them to please remember to return their home swab kits to DKMS. So far, only 25 per cent of people have returned their kit. ”
If you are age 17-55 and in good general health, you can support Arya and the other 2,000 people in need of a lifesaving transplant by registering online for your home swab kit. You’ll join a group of over 765,000 other potential lifesavers already registered to help give someone a second chance of life.
It costs £40 to register one potential blood stem cell donor. DKMS relies on monetary donations to help cover this cost. Whilst the NHS is very supportive, it falls to charities like ours to reach out and recruit those potential lifesavers.