A desperate mother is pleading for blood stem cell donors to come forward after her baby daughter was given just given weeks to live.
Liya Gumusoz, 1, has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia – a rare and aggressive type of cancer – which affects one in 3,100 people.
Parents Ufuk and Hatice Gumusoz were left devastated when doctors said young Liya would require a life saving bone marrow transplant by the end of July if she is to survive.
The family, originally from Turkey but now living in Twwickenham, south west London, first noticed their daughter had become ill at the start of the year.
Liya’s heartbroken parents noticed their daughter became tired more easily, lost her appetite and had unusual bruising on her body.
But it was when they noticed the 21-month-old tot began to have difficulty walking that her parents knew something was not right.
Mrs Gumosoz said: “It was on a Sunday morning, she woke up again screaming and wasn’t able to move at all.”
After searching online for possible reasons, Mrs Gumosoz found that it could be leukaemia.
“I was praying that it wasn’t leukaemia,” a tearful Mrs Gumosoz said. “She was absolutely fine until then.”
Liya was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London as the pandemic took hold, which meant only one parent was allowed to see their daughter.
The worried couple faced a terrible wait for news on their daughter’s condition – however, their worst nightmares were realised when a haematologist confirmed Liya has leukaemia.
Mrs Gumosoz said: “I couldn’t breathe, I felt like my heart had been stabbed over and over again.
“I just sobbed, all I wanted to do was leave the room and go and cuddle my baby.”
Liya began chemotherapy, but it is not enough to beat the aggressive cancer. Now, her only chance of survival is to find a blood stemk cell donor.
Only 2% of the UK population are on the blood stem cell donor register, and the number of people signing up as potential donors has drastically fallen in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Currently, there is nobody on the register who is a close enough genetic match to Liya.
Mrs Gumosoz said: “I know that it’s a tough time that we’re going through with all this lockdown, but all these kids they need blood transfusions and they need just basic help really.
“People should donate, it’s only their blood, their stem cells, it’s a very basic procedure. It only takes a couple of hours to do it and you can save one person’s life. It could save her, there’s no way she will survive.”