Family's plea for stem cell donors to save four-year-old daughter

A donor match is vital for little Josie, who has a rare genetic condition, to give her a 'second chance at life.'

A family from the Highlands is hoping to encourage more people to sign up to become stem cell donors in a bid to find life-saving treatment for their four year old daughter.

Josie Davidson from Alness needs a stem cell transplant.

It’s hoped a new donation centre recently opened in Scotland, could help boost the chances of her finding a perfect match.

Josie has a rare genetic mutation dnajc21, which means her bone marrow will fail, and a matching donor could save her life.

Her family know all too well the difference a match could make.

Her older sister Adeline underwent a successful stem cell transplant two years ago for the same genetic mutation.

Steph with Josie, left, and Adeline

The girls’ mother Steph said: “With Josie, it’s a waiting game really – we either wait for a ten out of ten match or we need to wait until she gets poorly, which we don’t want, so the more people on the register, the more likely it is.

“It is giving her a second chance at life. She could become poorly at any time and we just don’t know.”  

Only 2.4% of Scots eligible to donate are currently on the register.

Previously, those who were a match for a patient had to travel to Sheffield or London to undergo the procedure.

But now a new centre has opened in Edinburgh – and it’s hoped this will encourage more people to sign up.

Marc Turner, director of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service said: “We opened the centre at the beginning of September and we have had a number of donors come through so that’s excellent.

“We are looking to ramp up the number of donors we can take in the coming year so hopefully we will see plenty of more donors coming forward.”

Josie’s story has already spurred thousands of people to sign up to see if they are a match.

A new centre has opened in Edinburgh allowing stem cell donations to be collected

It’s hoped even more potential Scots donors will register now there is the opportunity to donate closer to home.

The DKMS charity also says that it’s a far easier procedure than before, with people often able to donate stem cells the same way as they’d give blood.

Chris Bain from the charity said: “The initial process to get on the register is just mouth swabs.

“I think there’s a lot of concern still as to how you donate stem cells, a lot of people still think that it’s done through the harvesting of bone marrow, which does require surgery.

“That’s not done very often these days, due to the advances in technology. It’s quite similar to donating blood, we can take the stem cells from your blood, and then your blood, minus the stem cells will get put back into your body and it takes about four hours to do.”

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