Leukaemia girl's parents appeal for bone marrow donors
The parents of a seriously ill girl are appealing for people to consider becoming bone marrow donors in the hope it could save their daughter's life.
Rhiane Francois, from Whitley, near Coventry, is having chemotherapy for leukaemia but if it is not effective she will need a bone marrow transplant.
Doctors say a matching donor could be hard to find for the seven-year-old, who has Mauritian and Asian heritage.
Her parents Tanisha and Jean-Claude urged potential donors to come forward.
They are asking people to sign the bone marrow register run by Anthony Nolan, a blood cancer charity.
"When Rhiane was diagnosed, our world turned upside down and it felt like someone had stabbed me in the heart," said Mrs Francois.
"You just never think that something like this is going to happen to your child.
"If Rhiane needs a bone marrow transplant, we will need to find a matching donor quickly to save her life.
"That's why we are urging everyone eligible to join Anthony Nolan's bone marrow register now, especially people from ethnic minorities."
Rhiane was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in September.
Doctors at Birmingham Children's Hospital, where she is being treated, have warned if her course of chemotherapy does not work she will need a transplant. Rhiane is due to find out in February if she needs a transplant.
Anthony Nolan is checking its register for suitable matches. But the charity said it "urgently" needed people from black, Asian and other ethnic minority backgrounds to come forward, as such donors are currently under-represented.
"Joining the bone marrow register is very easy and many people don't realise that donating is so straightforward," said Bhaveshree Chandegra, Asian campaign recruitment manager at Anthony Nolan.
Dr Mark Velangi, consultant paediatric haematologist at Birmingham Children's Hospital, said: "We know from first-hand experience the difficulty we can face in the search for donors from ethnic minority backgrounds and are so proud of Rhiane and her family for continuing to raise awareness of bone marrow donation."