Young Citizen nominee: Esha, 4, who inspired thousands to join bone marrow donor list

Esha, 4, requires a stem cell transplant to have a chance of survival

Esha's battle with leukaemia has inspired thousands to join the bone marrow donor register - Credit: For Esha

A four-year-old Clayhall girl whose battle with leukaemia has inspired thousands to join the bone marrow donor list has been nominated for an award. 

Esha Nadeswaran is this month’s nominee for the Ilford Recorder/Redbridge Rotary Young Citizen Awards. 

Around 20,000 new people are estimated to have registered as bone marrow donors after a campaign by Esha’s family which saw testing centres set up across the country in an effort to find her a donor. 

After two unsuccessful rounds of chemotherapy at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), a stem cell transplant was Esha’s last chance. 

Last month, the family announced that a donor had been found

Esha will move into the bone marrow ward at GOSH tomorrow (Tues) ahead of the transplant, which will likely take place the following Wednesday. 

The transplant is going to be combined with a new treatment, which is being trialled for the first time at GOSH, in an effort to increase her chances. 

Responding to her nomination, Esha’s father Rish said: “I think it's amazing that media outlets like yourself recognise the efforts that’s gone into this.” 

He said that it had been a huge undertaking to balance the campaign with looking after Esha and her sibling as well as working at the same time. 

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He noted that many people around the hospital had begun to recognise Esha from the campaign. 

“Her personality and her story has definitely got out there and reached so many people,” he said. 

“We are very grateful to everyone who has helped drive that success – not just our family but absolute strangers who have volunteered and helped us run these drives. 

“It’s an acknowledgement not just to Esha but to everybody who helped or participated in that process.” 

Despite the huge number of new registrations she inspired in the UK, Esha’s donor was ultimately found in Singapore. 

Rish said that the odds of a match were one in 150,000, which he said showed the importance of a large donor base. 

“Obviously, our hope is that that will help other people someday because having checked all the global registry there was only one match for Esha and that was not even in this country,” he said. 

Between 60 and 70 per cent of the new registrations had been from ethnic minority backgrounds, which are underrepresented on the register and which had been the major target of the Sri Lankan family’s campaign. 

According to the NHS, genetic matches for people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds is found in as little as 20pc of cases. 

Despite her donor match, Esha still faces an uncertain outcome. 

Her most recent round of chemotherapy had little effect on the acute myeloid cancer, and Rish said that her prognosis now is “not zero, but not great either”. 

“For us obviously at the moment it’s just focusing our energy, for the next two or three months, on getting Esha through this,” he added. 

The coming round of treatment will require far stricter infection control and Rish said they were “trying to prepare her mentally for the fact that she’ll be stuck in her room for six to eight weeks minimum”. 

He said that the family would love to raise more awareness around the donor register in future and “when the time permits, hopefully someday pick up and drive these campaigns on a more consistent basis”. 

The Young Citizen Award celebrates the great things being achieved by young people of Redbridge, aged 25 and under. 

Each month’s nominee will be invited to the Mayor’s Community Awards night in March, where an overall winner will be announced. 

The overall winner will receive £100 from Redbridge Rotary Club and will, along with the runner-up, go through to the national Young Citizen final run by Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland. 

To nominate someone, contact daniel.gayne@archant.co.uk at the Recorder or visit https://www.redbridgerotaryclub.org/contact giving information about the nomination and contact details. 

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