Sister gives the gift of life

Dawud Raza,  and his sister Khadijah.

Dawud Raza, and his sister Khadijah.

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A mum is appealing for more Asian people to sign up as potential stem cell donors after her baby son’s life was saved by a stem cell transplant from his sister.

Zahra Hussain, 29, is calling for more people from ethnic minority backgrounds to join the Anthony Nolan’s register after her one-year-old son, Dawud Raza, was saved by a stem cell transplant after being diagnosed with a rare illness that causes immunodeficiency when he was just five months old.

The pharmacist and Dawud’s father Kashif Raza, a GP in Lupset, both know that Dawud was very lucky to have a sister who was a perfect match for him as he would otherwise have been dependent upon Anthony Nolan finding him an unrelated donor, which is much harder for people from an Asian or other ethnic minority background. Only around a third of patients find a match in their own family.

Zahra, who is of Pakistani origin, said: “Without the transplant Dawud wouldn’t have survived but he is now a happy, smiley baby.

“Khadijah, is only three but she saved his life.

“He was very lucky to have found a match in his sister as otherwise he would have had to rely on a register which is short of South Asian donors – his fate would have been in a stranger’s hands and he might not have had such a good outcome.

“There was only a 25-per-cent chance that Khadijah would be a match

We were warned that finding a match for him on the register would be difficult because Asian people are under represented.

It could so easily have been a very different story.”

Dawud is now recovering.

Dawud was a healthy baby when he was born in October last year but after just a few months he developed a severe rash, had gone off his food and become irritable and unwell. His parents feared it was meningitis so rushed him to hospital. A bone marrow biopsy revealed he had a rare genetic condition called HLH (haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis), an illness which causes the immune system to attack healthy tissue and is fatal without treatment. He was immediately started on chemotherapy and his parents were told he would need a stem cell transplant to survive.