South East Wales

Stem cell student Vithiya Alphons inspires donor registrations

Vithiya pictured following her chemotherapy Image copyright Vithiya Alphons

A Cardiff University student recovering from a stem cell transplant is highlighting the need for more ethnic minorities to sign up as donors.

Vithiya Alphons, 24, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia just days after returning for her final year of study.

She needed an urgent stem cell transplant, but the search for a donor proved difficult as not many south Asian people are on the registers.

Doctors were forced to use her mother's cells, which were only a 50% match.

The transplant took place in May and Miss Alphons, from Walthamstow, London, said her recovery had been "a very tough journey" but she was grateful to everyone who helped her.

"I am now getting better," she added.

Image copyright Facebook/Vithya Alphons
Image caption Bavany Alphons donated stem cells to her daughter Vithiya

She is now urging more ethnic minorities to sign up to donor registers.

"I was very lucky that my mum was fit and healthy and able to be a donor," she said.

"There are a lot of people who will not have that option and will only be able to rely on an unrelated donor."

The charity Anthony Nolan started the search to find Miss Alphons a donor and her family launched a social media campaign.

Although no match was found, thousands of people signed up to the donor register in the weeks afterwards.

Ann O'Leary, head of register development at Anthony Nolan, said: "Vithiya's appeal raised huge awareness of the need for more Asian and ethnic minority donors to join the stem cell register.

"And it is remarkable that Vithiya continues to raise awareness of this need, despite being in the early stages of recovery.

"She has remained positive throughout her illness and is a true inspiration to us all."

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