1-year-old could become youngest person to receive stem cell transplant

Phoebe needs a life-saving stem cell transplant Credit: Emma Wyke

A 1-year-old girl from Birmingham who is seriously ill with leukaemia could become the youngest person in the world to receive a stem cell transplant IF a donor can be found.

Phoebe was diagnosed with the disease at just 7-months-old. She underwent chemotherapy treatment but her cancer remained and her hopes of survival now depend on finding a stem cell donor match.

The youngest person to have received a stem cell transplant is a two-year-old in America, but doctors here have said they will perform a transplant for Phoebe if they can find a match for her.

Phoebe was diagnosed with leukaemia when she was just 7-months-old Credit: Emma Wyke
Phoebe underwent chemotherapy but her hopes now rest on receiving a transplant Credit: Emma Wyke

Today, friends and family held two donor rallies to try and find a match. The first happened at Tipton Sports Academy. Meanwhile staff at Tesco in Burntwood also took swabs from people wanting to sign up as potential donors.

What does stem cell donation involve?

Firstly, you need to join the stem cell register. You can join online. Fill in the application form at the Anthony Nolan Trust or DKMS. You'll be sent a swab pack in the post.

If you're a match for someone, you can donate your stem cells in two ways: Nearly 90% of people donate their stem cells in a process called peripheral blood stem cell collection. The process involves having a course of injections prior to collection to stimulate the bone marrow and increase the number of stem cells and white blood cells in the blood. The other 10% donate through bone marrow, where they give cells from the bone marrow in their pelvis.

A courier will collect your cells and deliver them to the hospital where the recipient is waiting. They’ll usually give your stem cells to the recipient the same day or the day after you donate.

Stem cell donation facts (source: Anthony Nolan Trust):

  • Every 14 minutes, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer.

  • Over 2,000 people in the UK are in need of a bone marrow or stem cell transplant every year.

  • 75% of UK patients won’t find a matching donor in their families. So they turn to us to find them an unrelated donor.