19 November 2005

Please save my little girl ... a mum's plea from the US

Belfast Telegraph

Parents in bone marrow search for brave Aileen

By Nigel Gould, Health Correspondent
ngould@belfasttelegraph.co.uk
19 November 2005

A desperate mum sent out an SOS from America last night to people across Northern Ireland: "Please help save my little girl's life."

Marie Fearon, originally from Newry but now living in Connecticut, told how her nine-year-old daughter Aileen desperately needed a bone marrow transplant.

And in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph Marie said: "I would appeal to everyone across Northern Ireland to help us. We really need a donor match. It only takes a minute to get tested.

"I really believe there is a match out there in Ireland - north or south."

In 1999, when little Aileen was just three, she was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia - a blood deficiency, representing a failure of the cell-generating capacity of the bone marrow.

Since then her mum and dad, Mike, who was also born in Newry, have been searching all over the world for a bone marrow donor match.

They have also tried a variety of alternative treatments but nothing has been successful.

Several donor recruitment drives have also been held by family members in Northern Ireland.

And recently some 100 local people were recruited to the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow charity's register after a special clinic in Dromintee in Co Armagh.

But still no match was found.

Now, the family are hoping this report raises Aileen's profile to the extent that people across the province will come forward to be tested.

"The only know cure is a bone marrow transplant," Marie said.

"We have tried other treatments but they haven't worked.

"At the moment Aileen is having transfusions every week. But this is unpredictable.

"She is also susceptible to infection.

"But we are trying to live our lives as normal in very tough circumstances."

If Aileen is well enough, the family will be travelling to Northern Ireland after Christmas for a holiday.

Meanwhile, the Anthony Nolan Trust said potential donors should contact the charity on 0207 284 1234 or visit www.anthonynolan.org.uk

A spokeswoman said: "The Anthony Nolan is responsible for finding suitable unrelated donors for patients who require bone marrow transplants.

"Fewer than 30% of patients who need bone marrow transplants are able to find a compatible donor within their own families.

"The rest rely on the generosity of strangers who have volunteered to donate bone marrow to anyone in need.

"The Anthony Nolan Trust saves lives thanks to over 365,000 UK residents who have volunteered to donate bone marrow to any patient in need. The Anthony Nolan maintains a database of tissue-typing results of all prospective donors. Whenever a patient requires a bone marrow transplant the Anthony Nolan is requested to search this database to identify potentially matched donors."

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