Chelsie needs your help to save her life

Little Chelsie Beard desperately needs your help to save her life.The five-year-old needs a bone marrow transplant after several doses of chemotherapy have failed to control the leukaemia which is attacking her tiny body.

THIS little girl desperately needs your help to save her life.

Five year old Chelsie Beard needs a bone marrow transplant after several doses of chemotherapy have failed to control the leukaemia which is attacking her tiny body.

Doctors have trawled the national register of bone marrow donors for a match to no avail and neither her mum, brother or sister are suitable.

So today her mum Sarah is hoping to set up a session for people in Ipswich to join the bone marrow register to help little Chelsie as well as other people with the disease.

Ms Beard, 27, said: “I just want to encourage people to find out more about donating bone marrow.

“It's not as scary as it sounds and if they can't help Chelsie they may be able to help save someone else's life.”

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The family's nightmare began when Chelsie was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) in May last year.

After intensive courses of chemotherapy, in November it seemed that the disease had gone into remission.

But in February, weekly blood tests revealed the devastating news that the leukaemia was returning.

Chelsie is now back at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge for more intensive chemotherapy but doctors have told her mother that this will only keep the disease at bay and the only hope of a cure is a bone marrow transplant.

Ms Beard said: “There's only so much she can take because it's toxic stuff and there's only so much they can give her.”

She would like to set up a session in Ipswich where people can sign up to the national bone marrow register, but is looking for somewhere big enough to hold the event.

If your organisation could host a bone marrow register event contact our health reporter Sarah Gillett on 01473 324791 or email sarah.gillett@eveningstar.co.uk

Chelsie's story

SARAH Beard's nightmare began when little Chelsie became jaundiced so she took her to see the doctor.

She said: “She'd been a bit sleepy and I started to get a bit worried about it. I was just expecting the doctors to say that she'd got flu or something but they said she urgently needed to have blood tests and we had to take her to Ipswich Hospital.”

After three days she received the devastating news that Chelsie, a pupil at Springfield Primary School, had leukaemia.

She said: “They could not tell us exactly what type it was but said she needed to go to Addenbrooke's for more tests. It was when she was there that they diagnosed AML.”

Between then and November Chelsie barely saw her home as she was only allowed out for a few days at a time in between the intensive courses of chemotherapy.

Ms Beard said: “She coped with it really well and was hardly ill at all. She was worried about losing her hair at first as she thought she might look like a boy but in the end she actually quite liked it.

“She was not allowed to leave her room but she stayed really bright and cheerful, just like the usual Chelsie. No-one would have believed how ill she was, she was still the same happy-go-lucky girl.”

By November it seemed as though the leukaemia had gone in to remission.

Her mum said: “She went back to school, was starting to integrate with her friends again, her hair was starting to grow back and she was just getting on with life like every other normal five-year-old.”

However in February her weekly blood tests began to show signs the leukaemia was returning.

Ms Beard, said: “We knew that it could come back but we never thought that it would come back so soon.”

Bone marrow is the place where stem cells, the 'building blocks' of blood, grow into ordinary blood cells.

A number of diseases can prevent the bone marrow from working properly, including leukaemia and aplastic anaemia.

While chemotherapy can treat some of these patients, for many the only possible cure is a bone marrow transplant.

In about 30pc of cases a matched donor can be found from within the patient's family. In Chelsie's case her mum, brother and sister have been tested but were not good enough matches.

HOW TO BE A DONOR

People must generally be aged between 18 and 40 to go on the Bone Marrow Register and already be a blood donor. Their details will be kept on the register until they are 60.

Patients and potential donors are matched by comparing the white cells in the blood, i.e. tissue type

If you are identified as a potential donor you will be asked to supply a further blood sample for more extensive tissue typing.

If you do not wish to proceed you may withdraw at any stage.

There are two ways of donating stem cells. The first is donation of bone marrow itself, which involves the removal of stem cells from your hip bones. This is done using a needle and syringe under general anaesthetic.

The second method involves donating stem cells from the circulating blood. You will be connected to a machine which collects the stem cells from your blood via a vein in one arm, returning the blood to your body through a vein in the other arm.

Bone marrow donation is very safe and any risks will be fully explained. Both methods of collection may involve some temporary discomfort in your bones.

For more information contact the National Blood Service Donor Helpline on 0845 711711.

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