A HEARTBROKEN Scots family are making an international appeal for help in a ‘race against time’ to save their young daughter who is sick with leukaemia.
Eight-year-old Aillidh Kinnaird could lose her desperate battle for life within months unless a suitable bone marrow donor comes forward.
Just six months ago Aillidh was a happy, healthy girl who enjoyed days out with her family near her home on the beautiful Cowal peninsula, Argyll.
Aillidh’s tragic case is highly unusual because most child leukaemia sufferers with two white parents are able to find a suitable donor from their extended family or the millions of people on the international register.
But the little girl has an extremely unusual tissue type which has made finding a suitable donor so far impossible.
Aillidh’s mother Leigh, 40, has kept a 24/7 vigil at her bedside in Yorkhill hospital, Glasgow, as she went through gruelling chemotherapy.
Meanwhile dad Andrew is trying to maintain a normal routine for the couple’s other two young children.
An online campaign is aiming to drum up donors. Boxer Joe Calzaghe and comedienne Jenny Eclair lent their support on social media by ‘re-Tweeting’ the family’s appeal.
Last summer the family, from Sandbank, near Dunoon, had a picture taken together by Loch Lomond, with Aillidh beaming happily next to sister Roisin, six, and brother Struan, three.
But the close-knit family received the devastating news Aillidh had the deadly disease later that year.
Andrew, 34, described how the family found out last November what appeared to be a simple skin condition turned out to be the acute myloid leukaemia (AML).
AML is a more serious form of the disease than the more common acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
He said: “She’s been in hospital since November last year.
“She had celulitis on her leg. We went in to get it checked.
“Her leg was in a lot of agony, it had ballooned up.
“At Yorkhill hospital they found she had leukaemia.
“We were absolutely shocked when we heard, until then we had thought it was just a skin infection.”
Andrew, who works in retail, described how she was after her second round of chemotherapy:
He said: “She doesn’t want to do anything, it completely takes away your energy.
“She used to be quite active, she liked going out places, she loved swimming.
“But she’s a wee bit better just now.”
Animal-lover Aillidh was given a toy dog which barks if you squeeze its back for Christmas.
Leigh was able to return home on Saturday (21 January), but she will soon return to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Yorkhill as Aillidh prepares for another round of chemotherapy.
Andrew urged people to come forward and take the simple test which can determine compatible donors.
He said: “Please just go and get tested. It only takes a few hours to do.
“It’s quite a simple procedure but it can save someone’s life.”
He added: “I saw a boy with leukaemia in England was saved after a donor was found in Germany recently.
“I hope the same can be repeated.”
He said the leukaemia came from a ‘rogue gene’, and there could be a relapse if the right donor is not found.
He continued: “We (Aillidh’s family) were tested but none of us were a match.
“That’s why we’re reaching out.
“It’s sort of a race against time, because you never know when it’s going to relapse.”
Aillidh, in primary three at Sandbank Primary, would probably suffer a reoccurance of the disease if the bone marrow is not found, he said.
Andrew has been looking after them with Leigh in hospital, but he said ‘the leukemia is always there’ at the back of his mind.
The Facebook page for Aillidh’s campaign, ‘Acute Myeloid Leukaemia – Aillidh’s Search For A Donor‘, has been ‘liked’ almost 1,000 times on the site.
Ken Campbell, from Leukemia and Lymphoma Research, said: “It’s rare but not unheard of for a donor not to be found on the register.
“The most likely reason is she has an unusual combination of tissue types, they are markers the body uses to identify its own cells.”
He added: “This is very, very unlucky. You are more likely to find a match within your own ethnic group.
“With most Caucasians, it’s certainly the vast majority who are successful in finding a match in the system.”
He said the global register of bone marrow donor was millions strong.
A spokeswoman for cancer charity the Anthony Nolan Trust: “We’re urging everyone to come forward and join the register, particularly those from ethnic minority backgrounds, to see if they could help save the life of someone like Aillidh.
“To join the register, you need to visit our website, complete a short application form and provide a small saliva sample – it’s that simple.”