Ilford family to campaign for more bone marrow donors after 11-year-old daughter loses cancer fight
“I was glad she was no longer in pain, but I just wanted to cuddle my little girl,” said the mum of an 11-year-old, who is determined to get more bone marrow donors registered from ethnic minority groups after the death of her daughter.
Family and friends worked tirelessly to find a donor for Fiza Bashir, of St George’s Road, Ilford, after she was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, in September last year.
Despite a hundred donors coming forward after a recruitment event held at Fiza’s school, Gilbert Colvin Primary, in Stafford Avenue, Clayhall and an appeal in the Recorder, a match was not found and she died in August.
Her mum, Riffit, said: “I was so glad she was no longer in pain, but I just wanted to hold and cuddle my little girl. She was very weak towards the end and could no longer speak, but you could see the happiness in her eyes when the family was around her.”
They faced the agonising experience of waiting for test results to see if a donor match had been found for Fiza and made the decision to go forward with a haplo transplant (a half-match) from a family member, to try and buy her some more time.
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Patients from black and ethnic minority backgrounds (BME) have a 40 per cent chance of finding a matching donor, compared to 90 per cent for white northern European patients.
Riffit, who also has a son and daughter, said: “Fiza taught me that you must just keep living; she was a fighter.
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“I still feel like my right arm is missing.
“My family and I want to keep going especially as there are children out there who still need donors.
“We are looking into how we can raise awareness of the lack of donors from Caribbean and Asian backgrounds.”
A spokesman from the Anthony Nolan Trust, who supported Fiza’s appeal, said: “We are working hard to research ways to help patients from BME backgrounds, particularly the Asian-Indian population.”