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8,000 sign up in bid to find blood donor match to help save the life of brave Alara

By Laura Abernethy

Published 13/10/2015

Alara Basturk, from south Belfast, who urgently needs a blood stem cell donor
Alara Basturk, from south Belfast, who urgently needs a blood stem cell donor

The family of Alara Basturk have spoken of their delight after more than 8,000 people registered as blood donors to try to save the little girl's life.

The six-year-old from south Belfast is suffering from leukaemia and doctors urgently need to find a blood stem cell donor.

Her family launched an appeal last week after they discovered that none of her close family members were a match.

Alara needs someone with the same tissue-type to donate some of their blood stem cells.

But only 60% of those in need of a blood stem cell donation find a donor with a perfectly matching tissue-type who can save their life.

Following the release of a YouTube appeal, thousands of people from across the UK were touched by Alara's story and have pledged to help.

Yesterday, Alara's aunt, Roisin Magee, said: "We're completely overwhelmed. We weren't expecting even half of that response. People from all over the UK have signed up.

"People have been touched by her story. We've even been contacted by people on Facebook who are living in Canada, Australia and America and they have signed up as well after seeing our appeal."

The family don't know if any of the 8,000 people are a match yet but they are hopeful that a donor will be found very soon.

Alara was first diagnosed with blood cancer three years ago and she went into remission in March.

Unfortunately, doctors discovered that Alara had relapsed just weeks before she was due to fly out to Turkey to swim with dolphins in August.

Alara's school, Scoil an Droichid, had raised the funds to send Alara, her mum Susan, dad Kemal and three brothers on a dream holiday.

Roisin explained: "She went for a check-up to make sure she was OK to fly. That's when they discovered that it was back again."

But she said that her niece is doing well: "She has good days and bad days but she's still joking around and being her happy self."

The family are encouraging more people to get involved so they can find a match for Alara.

"I think a lot people are put off by the idea of a needle going into your hip. It isn't now. It's a cheek swab to get you onto the register and then it's just like giving blood if you are a match. It's an easy enough process but it could save so many lives," Roisin added.

Alara's family and Delete Blood Cancer UK are holding two events this weekend to encourage more people to help. The first will take place from 11am-5pm on Saturday at Shaftesbury Recreation Centre and the second from 10am-4pm on Sunday at Dungannon Swifts Football Club.

Deirdra Taylor, Director of Communications at Delete Blood Cancer UK, said: "The response to Alara's appeal has been incredible.

"To be told that the life of a loved one, depends on a stranger is a strange position to be in and everyone who registers as a potential blood stem cell donor makes it easier for them."

You can register in five minutes online at www.deletebloodcancer.org.uk and request a cheek swab kit that will enable you to do your own tissue test to go on the database. For more information visit www.deletebloodcancer.org.uk.

Belfast Telegraph

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