Family of girl, 4, with leukaemia plead for more south Asian bone marrow donors

Esha, 4, is still searching for a stem cell match for a life-saving bone marrow transplant

Esha, 4, is still searching for a stem cell match for a life-saving bone marrow transplant - Credit: Rish Nadeswaran

The Clayhall family of a four-year-old leukaemia patient has called for more people from south Asian backgrounds to sign up to the bone marrow register. 

Esha Nadeswaran was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in May and has spent 15 weeks at Great Ormond Street Hospital undergoing two intensive but unsuccessful cycles of chemotherapy. 

Her last hope is to find a genetic match for a stem cell transplant.

Esha’s father Rish, who is from a Sri Lankan family, urged more people from south Asian backgrounds to come forward and sign up as donors. 

“It’s not just about Esha, there’s hundreds of people looking for bone marrow,” he said. 

Rish and Kavitha Nadeswaran, with children Ria and Esha

Clockwise from top left: Rish Nadeswaran, Kavitha, Ria, Esha - Credit: Rish Nadeswaran


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If you are a blood donor, you can get yourself added to the British Bone Marrow Registry at your next donation. 

People can also sign up through Anthony Nolan, a charity which runs a stem cell register. 

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Bone marrow is the soft, spongy tissue found at the centre of certain bones and is where blood stem cells – which produce red and white blood cells – are found. 

For people like Esha, the best hope of survival is a stem cell transplant. 

To improve the chances of a successful transplant, the NHS says a donor must be found to match the patient’s human leukocyte antigen (HLA) types. 

Some ethnic groups have more complex tissue types than others and HLA types are inherited, meaning that ethnic background is an important factor in predicting the likelihood of finding a match.  

The NHS said Caucasian patients are able to find the best possible match in 70 per cent of cases. For people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, this drops to as low as 20pc.  

Rish said that a transplant is the last chance of survival for Esha, who he described as a “very funny and bubbly and cheeky individual” who “makes anyone who meets her smile” and loves Disney princess movies. 

He said: “The reality is if she doesn’t get it, she will not survive.” 

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