Race against time to find bone marrow match for baby girl as family’s life ‘stopped’

An 18-month-old baby girl is in a desperate race against time to find a life-saving bone marrow donor.

Elaiya Hameed, 18 months old, has Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, cancer of the white blood cells, and urgently needs a stem cell transplant.

Sadly, there is no matching donor on the register so her parents Muzahir and Summan are doing everything they can to raise awareness and urge people to get themselves on the register.

The parents are particularly trying to raise awareness among the Pakistani and South Asian community because Elaiya is more likely to find a successful match from someone of the same ethnic origin.

Speaking to the Mirror about her little girl’s devastating diagnosis, mum Summan said: “Our life just stopped – and it has been stopped ever since.

“We are just in this bubble now and focusing on her.

“With Elaiya it’s a race against time because they have to do it [the transplant] as soon as.”

Elaiya has been an inpatient at Nottingham Hospital ever since her diagnosis.

Summan said Elaiya’s symptoms started mid to late April with spikes in her temperature and drowsiness overnight.

“Something was not right,” Summan said. “She was slowly losing strength.”

Elaiya’s parents took her into hospital where it was discovered that her platelets were low.

Summan said: “She was also bruising quite a lot. Her brother would play with her and she would be getting bruising all over her body and it wouldn’t make sense. It was a bit alarming.”

Subsequent trips to the hospital led to the discovery that Elaiya’s red blood cells were dropping.

Also, a consultant noticed she was looking pale and ran a series of further tests, the results of which led the consultant to suspect leukaemia.

A referral to Nottingham Hospital for bone marrow tests then led to the diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.

“You never think it will be you,” Summan said. “Our life was almost too good to be true. Amazing friends and family and two beautiful, healthy children – and there was nothing that could change that in our minds.

“But in the click of a finger everything has come down.”

Elaiya has already undergone one round of chemotherapy and is she is due to undergo two more rounds before a transplant – but at the moment the family have no confirmed donors.

Summan said: “It’s as simple as giving blood – that’s to be a donor. To get on the register it’s a cheek swab.”

She continued: “With Elaiya it’s a race against time because they have to do it [the transfer] as soon as.

“If there are no donors the best bet is me or my husband but we are a 50% match.”

For a higher success rate they need to find a perfect match for Elaiya.

Doctors are hoping, all being well, that Elaiya will get her transplant by the end of August.

Summan said: “She is our angel child, we don’t believe she has what she has. We look at her and think ‘is this real?’

“From the moment she was born she was happy, she is always blowing kisses, talking, she absolutely adores her brother. She has always been strong.”

Speaking about how the diagnosis affected her and the family, Summan said: “I think Elaiya is making us strong. She smiled even through her first chemotherapy treatment.

“Everyone who meets her adores her. She is a ball of energy.

“She is so good through it, I think that’s the only reason we are able to get through it. But it’s completely turned our lives upside down.

“I urge people to get on that list because you never know if it could be you.”

Summan said her toddler Deen, two, has been “incredible”.

“He says ‘doctor is going to make it better’ and ‘mummy and daddy have gone to the hospital to help Elaiya’.

“Every morning he asks about her. It’s hard for us as parents as we want to try and keep his life as normal as possible.”

When speaking how she would feel if a match was found, Summan said: “I can’t think of words that would resemble my emotion or how indebted I would feel.

“You [wouldn’t be] just saving my daughter’s life but also my life.

“She is fighting this with all her might. If we as a community around the world can’t give her what she needs that will break me.”