South East Wales

Stem cell search student Vithiya Alphons has transplant from mother

Bavany Alphons and Vithiya Alphons Image copyright Facebook / Vithya Alphons
Image caption Bavany Alphons is donating stem cells to her daughter Vithiya

A student with leukaemia who was at the centre of a worldwide search for a stem cell donor is to have a transplant - thanks to her mother.

Vithiya Alphons, 24, has acute myeloid leukaemia and was told she needed a donation urgently.

But because of her Sri Lankan background, the search was more complex as not many South Asian people are on donor registers.

A perfect match was not found so doctors are using her mother's cells.

Image copyright Facebook / Vithiya Alphons
Image caption Bavany and Vithiya Alphons

Miss Alphons, from Walthamstow, London, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia - an aggressive form of blood cancer - after falling ill just days after returning for her final year as an optometry student at Cardiff University.

After chemotherapy failed, she was told her best option was now a stem cell transplant from a donor, which was needed within two months.

The charity Anthony Nolan started a search for a "potential lifesaver" donor on registers around the world and Miss Alphons' family launched a social media campaign.

'Only option'

Thousands of people signed up to the donor register in the weeks afterwards but no perfect matches were found so her mother, Bavany Alphons, stepped forward, even though she is only a 50% match.

Posting on her Facebook page, Miss Alphons' family said: "We were really hoping to get a complete match but unfortunately as we couldn't find one, there was no other choice but to go ahead with her mother's half match cells (50%) as this is the only option we have at this time to save her life."

A spokesman for Anthony Nolan said it was too early to say how Miss Alphons was "as the recovery can be quite a long process".

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