A talented 15-year-old sprinter who has been diagnosed with leukaemia is desperately seeking a stem cell transplant to save her life.
Kelly Chadwick, a gifted sprinter from Manchester, is suffering from a particularly aggressive form of Leukaemia, which is a cancer of the blood and usually originates in an individual’s bone marrow.
The teenager’s search is made considerably more difficult because of her mixed race. Kelly is three times less likely to find a ‘perfect match’ due to a lack of black, Asian or mixed race donors on the Anthony Nolan register.
The charity told The Huffington Post UK: “The main reason for the lack of donors is simply a lack of awareness in this community and some myths that persist around donating your stem cells/bone marrow, notably that it’s a painful procedure.”
According to the charity, the ideal match is most likely to derive from a similar ethnic background.
Because of a lack of donors, Anthony Nolan has been actively encouraging people from similar backgrounds as Kelly to register with the charity.
As a result of their appeal, Anthony Nolan remarked that 1,427 people had joined the register online over the last week - a 66% increase on the 858 people who joined in the same period last year.
More importantly, 31% of the people who have signed up online in this past week have been black, Asian or mixed raced which compares to the weekly average of 13 percent recorded in 2014.
Kelly, who recently won a bronze at the English Schools Championships, was diagnosed with the disease in April this year.
Phil Chadwick, Kelly’s dad, said: “Kelly came down with a chest infection and was feeling very sick after food. The doctor told us it was just a stomach bug. But then she started sleeping in the afternoons and was even too fatigued to go training – that just wasn’t like her.
“One day she just walked out of the lounge and collapsed. I took her straight into hospital and after doing some tests they told us the news; she had acute myeloid leukaemia. When they said they needed to take her to the teenage unit at Alder Hey right away, that’s when it hit home.
According to Phil, the family was told that Kelly’s fitness would make it easier for her to cope with the treatment that she’s currently undergoing.
Phil added: “We’re all beyond proud of Kelly and how she’s coped. Even now, she’s keeping really positive and is so mentally tough. She’s used to ‘routine routine routine’ when it comes to training, so now she’s just getting on with her new routine which is regular hospital stays, chemotherapy and visits from her school friends, which help keep her spirits up.”
If no match is found within the next couple of months, one of Kelly’s parents will be able to donate to her (Phil is a six out of ten match and her mum, Jen, is a five out of ten match), but the doctors are still hoping to find a closer match.
Alice Hirst, Regional Register Development Manager at Anthony Nolan, said: “Kelly is an inspirational young woman and somewhere out there, there’s a potential lifesaver who could help give Kelly a lifeline by donating their stem cells.
“What many people don’t realise is how easy it is to join the Anthony Nolan register – it simply involves filling in a form and providing a saliva sample. If you’re one of the privileged few who goes on to donate, 90 percent of the time this will now take place via an outpatient appointment which is similar to donating blood.”
You can sign up and find out more about the charity’s African-Caribbean campaign here.