Two young girls from Northamptonshire strike up friendship waiting for bone marrow donors

  • The fathers of two young girls waiting for a life-saving donor spoke to ITV News Anglia's Stuart Leithes

Two young girls have struck up a close friendship in hospital as they wait for the bone marrow transplants which could save their lives.

Five-year-old Florence Bark and 18-month-old Elaiya Hameed have been receiving chemotherapy in the same ward after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia last month.

The bond between the two girls has also brought their fathers together - and they want their daughters' friendship to be a catalyst to get more people to sign up for the bone marrow register.

Andrew Bark and his wife Stacey, from Corby in Northamptonshire, know that finding a bone marrow match is the best hope for successfully treating the girls.

Five-year-old Florence Bark and 18-month-old Elaiya Hameed at The Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham

Mr Bark said: "It's very time sensitive: we need a donor as soon as possible.

"It's every parent's worst nightmare. It's something that didn't enter our heads at all before she was diagnosed.

"You would never expect something like this to happen - and now we are just calling on as many people as possible to help us save our daughter's life."

Five-year-old Florence Bark and 18-month-old Elaiya Hameed have developed a close bond

Florence and Elaiya have been supporting each other during the weeks they have spent in hospital in Nottingham.

Meanwhile the families are appealing for more people to contact the Anthony Nolan charity so they can join the bone marrow transplant register.

Muzahir Hameed and his wife Summan, from Northampton, say that it may be more difficult to find a match for Elaiya, as the ideal donor would be from the same ethnic background.

Mr Hameed has made a direct appeal for help.

He said: "This is an appeal to everyone in the UK, but specifically in our case, it's an appeal to all the British Pakistanis up and down the country.

"Please, please, please sign up because the chances of Elaiya matching with someone of the same ethnic background and origin are far greater and far more likely to be a successful match and avoid any chances of having a relapse.

"The support so far has been absolutely phenomenal.

"We really, really appreciate it. But please the most important thing and the most important thing to take from this message is to sign up on the register to become a donor."

Muzahir Hameed and Andrew Bark have joined forces to appeal for bone marrow donors Credit: ITV Anglia

Florence also has a rare gene rearrangement which puts her at a higher risk of relapse.

So the Bark family have been fundraising for another specialist form of treatment, Car T-cell therapy, not available on the NHS, for which they need to raise £500,000.

The fathers are hoping their appeal will encourage more bone marrow donors to come forward, not only to find a match for their daughters, but also to provide potentially life-saving treatment for other families in the same situation.

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