Brave Ava Stark is preparing for a life-saving bone marrow transplant after a worldwide appeal found two “hero” donors.
Ava, three, was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow on Wednesday to begin
chemotherapy and full-body radiation ahead of the operation.
The breakthrough came after the Daily Record reported how Ava’s transplant had twice been called off – once with just 24 hours’ notice – when donors had to pull out.
But a phone call last Friday gave Ava, who was diagnosed with inherited bone marrow failure in April, her Christmas wish of finding a new “hero’”.
She will have the transplant on Wednesday or Thursday next week.
Mum Marie, 33, from Lochgelly, Fife, said: “We were told we needed to go through to Glasgow last week as Ava needed to get a scan but we didn’t think much about it.
“We just assumed it was more tests and none of the doctors said anything about a new match.
“But on Friday my phone rang and it was the hospital to say they had done all the tests and everything that they needed to do and that they had found two donors who were ready for Ava.
“I told them after the last time that I didn’t want to know that they had found a match until the very last minute in case it fell through.
“I didn’t quite know how to feel – I didn’t want to get my hopes up in case the same thing happened again.
“But these two are both bone marrow donors and they’re new on the registry because they weren’t there when we were looking for one before.
“One is obviously preferred over the other one but they’re both matches so there’s always a back up.
“The main thing they’re worried about the most is the graft-v-host disease where the other person’s body will start to fight Ava or vice versa. But they’ll be keeping a really close eye on her.”
Ava’s chemotherapy and full body radiation will kill off her immune system and she will be kept in isolation for around four weeks.
The donor will spend two nights in a London hospital and will go under general anaesthetic to have the marrow removed from their pelvis using a needle and syringe.
Once the cells are extracted, they will be couriered to Glasgow, which must be done within 72 hours or the cells will die.
Only 10 per cent of donors give bone marrow, while 90 per cent donate just their stem cells in a process similar to giving blood.
After the first transplant was called off, a Record campaign attracted 11,000 volunteers and another perfect match was found.
A second appeal after that fell through brought a response from more than 69,000 people from across the world.
Marie is now urging people to carry on registering as donors for patients still waiting for their own heroes. She said: “This isn’t just about Ava. There shouldn’t be this horrific situation and hassle trying to find a donor,”
Anyone who is relatively healthy and aged 16-55 can sign up to the bone marrow donor register.