Aillidh’s Search for a Donor

I’m having a rubbish day.  My head hurts, I’ve got work tonight and my son is playing with his Leappad at full volume (“too many sugar buds in the house…”) whilst refusing to wear any pants or trousers.  Life’s tough, isn’t it?

How many of us have felt like we’re hard done to and wish we could have someone else’s life?  Have you ever moped on the couch, sure that at that moment, as the violins play in the background, life can get no worse?  I’ve been deeply depressed in the past and have genuinely felt like I was wading through thick, dark, sticky blackcurrant jelly just to get through the day.  I’ve never wanted to be dead but I have wanted to curl up under the covers and not have to ever get out from under them.  Life was dark.  But, whilst other people’s suffering doesn’t diminish our own feelings in each moment, sometimes it’s worth sitting back, taking stock and realising that life could be much worse.

You could, for instance, be an 8 year old girl who spent Christmas in a children’s hospital undergoing gruelling rounds of chemotherapy, desperately waiting on someone to come forward and be a match to you so that their bone marrow or stem cells could save your life.  You could still be in the same ward, in strict isolation, 78 days later, undergoing another transfusion.  Maybe my headache isn’t really so bad after all.

This is the story of little Aillidh Christine Kinnaird (pronounced Ay-lee) – just eight years old and just before Christmas she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, which affects only 20% of all those diagnosed with childhood leukaemia.  She’s now on her third round of chemo.  She desperately needs a bone marrow transplant.

Finding a donor is rarely a simple task, but for Aillidh it is even more complicated because she is a blend of white Scottish and Meztizo – an indigenous North American peoples.   It’s is very hard to find matches for mixed race patients and so it is really important that her story reaches as many people as possible throughout Europe and America.  The more people who sign up to the Anthony Nolan stem cell register (or in US Be The Match website), the better the chance of finding a match.

Aillidh’s family have been tirelessly raising awareness, asking people to sign up to be placed on the register.  They keep the public up to date with little Aillidh’s progress on their Facebook page.  They ask people to spread the word.

And so this is why I’m writing this blog.  I want to help them raise awareness and I want to share in the hope that one day soon a match will be found.  If there are truly six degrees of separation between us all, surely we can all play a part in helping to spread the word to the person out there who can help?

What can you do to help?

  1. You can click onto her Facebook page and share the link with your friends.
  2. You can spread awareness on Twitter and follow her progress there
  3. You can write your own blog and Blog it Forward or share this one so that as many people as possible hear the story.
  4. You can join in Salt & Caramel’s Blog Hop about Aillidh
  5. You could donate blood – it may not cure Aillidh but you may save someone else’s life.
  6. Most importantly, you could get added to the Bone Marrow Register.

You can find out more about donating in the UK at these websites:

Or here if you’re in the US: http://marrow.org/Home.aspx

Anthony Nolan test Ailidh's search for a donor

It’s quick and easy. I did it this week – all I had to do was spit into a tube that was sent to me in the post then pop it back in the post to Anthony Nolan.  And don’t let fear of the procedure put you off.  Aside from the fact that most donors donate stem cells from within their blood – no operation necessary – even if you are asked to donate bone marrow what’s a few days discomfort compared with saving someone’s life?  If it was your child, what would you want people to do?

And remember, even if you are not a match for Ailllidh, you could help save another life.

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6 responses to “Aillidh’s Search for a Donor

  1. I have lost my son to AML and since his death I have delivered talks to six form students to promote Stem cell and blood donation . I congratulate you on a well written piece and hope it will lead to more names on the register. If you go onto Anthony Nolan’s You tube site you will find excellent films you can share. The Connections film and also a cartoon film showing the donation process are particularly good. Hope this helps . Louise x

    • Thank you, Louise. I can’t begin to imagine what you have gone through. I hope I never find out. Thanks for the advice about you tube. I’ll find some later to add. Perhaps it’ll make the difference to even just one person.

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  5. Aillidh sadly passed away on the 8th July 2012 around 11.30pm due to complications from treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia.. she was surrounded my family, friends and love.
    May Aillidh Christine Kinnaird rest in peace.

    She was only 9 years old.

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