Saffron Walden family seeks donor to save toddler's life

PUBLISHED: 16:27 21 December 2015 | UPDATED: 09:40 22 December 2015

Hazel Richardson

Hazel Richardson

Archant

A process almost as simple as giving blood could save the life of toddler Hazel Richardson.

Hazel, 18 months, has a rare form of leukemia. Her family is calling for people to be tested because her only hope of a cure is a stem cell transplant.

To find out if their blood is suitable, all people need to do is to take a spit test. Ideally, the donor needs to be aged between 16 and 30. Help for Hazel could be just a couple of clicks away. The first step is to sign up online with the donors’ register run by the Anthony Nolan Trust. The website is: anthonynolan.org

Hazel has a slot booked at Great Ormond Street Hospital for early in 2016 in the hope that a donor will be found.

Hazel was diagnosed in October, just as her mum, Alice was about to give birth to Hazel’s baby brother, Wilbur.

Dad, Patrick said: “I was worried I might miss the birth but thankfully Hazel was discharged from hospital just before baby Wilbur arrived. His birth has been such a blessing. Hazy dotes on her baby brother – he is a distraction for us all from what Hazy is facing.”

Sometimes siblings can be a match but neither baby Wilbur or Romy are suitable (Romy was tested and cells were taken from Wilbur’s umbilical cord). Parents cannot donate stem cells because they will only ever be half matches.

Alice, Hazel’s mum, said: “It’s a miracle that it’s even feasible for a stranger to save Hazy. I’m humbled by the fact that people sign up and are there to help someone they don’t even know. Our campaign isn’t just about Hazel, it’s for all the children in need of a match, it’s much bigger than just us.”

The family spokesman is Hazel’s Aunt Jemma from Arkeston near Saffron Walden, herself a mother of three boys, aged 10, eight and six. She said: “You just never think it’s going to happen to you. You never imagine this is going to be your story.”

“At first they thought Hazel had meningitis. She was grotty, snotty and spotty, like toddlers are. When she was diagnosed with leukemia, it was devastating. It’s heartbreaking to see my brother and his wife going through this.

“If Hazel has her transplant, the whole family will have to move to London. Hazel will be in hospital for three months and she will have to be in isolation because of the danger of infection.”

Emma Innes from the Anthony Nolan Trust said: “Donors come from all over the world. We had a little girl about Hazel’s age whose donor was from Germany. She is seven now and he recently came over to meet her.”

To donate stem cells, people give blood which will be taken from one arm, have the stem cells removed and be replaced into the other arm.

It is an out-patient appointment which takes four hours.

See: /www.anthonynolan.org/news/2015/12/18/could-you-give-hazel-gift-life-christmas#sthash.LfJjzjIS.dpuf

Any schools or other organisations willing to hold a registering session can contact The Saffron Walden Reporter on 01799 513053 or email: angela.singer@archant.co.uk

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