Press Release

Cancer surgeon in desperate search to find lifesaving donor for his own daughter

A dad desperately searching for a donor to save the life of his daughter, has joined forces with blood cancer charity DKMS.

Last updated: 27/01/2021

A dad desperately searching for a donor to save the life of his daughter, has joined forces with blood cancer charity DKMS.


Surgeon Geraint Lloyd, from Cambridge, is used to working with seriously unwell people in his role as consultant general surgeon at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage.


12-year-old 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 – in Paddington - where tests revealed the devastating news no parent wants to hear; Arya was diagnosed with a life-threatening blood disorder - aplastic anaemia. She has been told her best chance of survival is through a blood stem cell transplant.


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 with a blood disorder a second chance of life. Yet, only 2% of the population are registered as potential blood stem cell donors.


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.


“She 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. We wanted to get her a puppy for additional companionship, but we can’t do this because of the risk of infection.”


Ordinarily, a patient’s best match would come from their sibling, but as an only child, this option isn’t available to Arya. Geraint and Brundha were told, at best they would only be a 50 per cent match, and their daughter needs a 10/10 match. Arya’s best hope now is from a stranger, so the family decided to work with international blood cancer charity DKMS.


Arya’s mixed heritage - half Indian and half Caucasian – makes her search excruciatingly more challenging to find a blood stem cell donor. Brundha has family in America and India, and DKMS has branches in both countries, so a global search to find Arya her match is on.


Although the UK benefits from a diverse population, 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. And due to the Coronavirus, fewer people are registering with DKMS. The charity has seen a steep decline in new donors coming forward since March, which leaves blood cancer patients like Arya in a desperate situation.


Arya’s campaign is being backed by actress Priya Davdra, who is working with DKMS to raise awareness of the urgent need for 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”.


“It really is just a numbers game. The more people who sign up, the more chance we have of finding people like Arya the lifesavers they need.”


Geraint added: “We’re at the mercy of others right now. We need their support. That said, I can’t begin to tell you how indebted we are to have Priya supporting Arya’s appeal. Arya loves watching Priya’s character on her favourite soap. Hopefully, Priya can help to diversify the UK’s aligned blood stem cell registry.


“Currently, BAME donors only represent 13% of the 2 million plus donors on the registry. But, we’re not only calling on Asians to step forward. We know Arya’s lifesaver is somewhere out there, we need them to sign up with DKMS.”


We need many potential blood stem cell donors from all backgrounds. If you are aged between 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 at www.dkms.org.uk/arya for your home swab kit. You’ll then join a group of over 758,000 other lifesavers-in-waiting, ready to make a difference by giving someone a much-needed second chance of life.

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