Belfast Telegraph

Mum of little Alara Basturk pleads for stem cell donor as hunt draws blank

By Victoria O'Hara

The mother of a desperately ill girl battling leukaemia has made a fresh plea to find a stem cell donor who could save her daughter's life.

Six-year-old Alara Basturk from Belfast was diagnosed three years ago and went into remission after undergoing chemotherapy.

But her parents were plunged back into a nightmare after she relapsed in August. They were told that Alara needed a blood stem cell donation to survive.

A video of Alara's emotional appeal, which was supported by Delete Blood Cancer UK, went viral and thousands of generous people have already supported the campaign.

Within days hundreds of people had swabbed the inside of their cheeks to register as potential donors.

Sadly a match has not yet been found, and the little girl is being treated in the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children.

But in a desperate bid her family and friends are hoping another donor search to be held at Dundonald High School this weekend will find the person who could save her life.

Only 60% of those in need of a blood stem cell donation find a donor with a perfectly matching tissue type. Alara's mum Susan told the Belfast Telegraph that finding the match "was the only hope" for her daughter.

"It is hard because you have that feeling of hope before each stem cell donation and then to find out there isn't a match. You just hope that it could help someone else out there in need - but it is difficult, a bit of a rollercoaster," she said.

"But you have to hold on to the hope. It has been we just have to focus on finding the match. That will give her her life back, so you have to stay positive."

This event has been organised by friends of the family of Ellen Vance, whose second son Todd was diagnosed with a brain tumour in February 2010.

"We met as families in Daisy Lodge, which is great for families touched by cancer," Ellen said.

"Alara is a wee fighter, but the longer things go on the harder it gets for her mum and dad. We are appealing for as many people as possible to come and see if they could be the person that saves Alara."

Ellen added: "Alara is half Turkish, therefore finding a match is that much more difficult.

"None of her siblings are a match so we need to keep searching and time is of the greatest importance to find a match for a bone marrow transplant.

"So please come along and get a cheek swab done on the day and join the register for the bone marrow transplant. It's a painless process and a step in saving a life.

"Each and every single donation no matter the size will make a difference. Every single penny that we receive will go towards the cost of registering new potential donors."

Delete Blood Cancer UK is also looking for financial support towards the costs of recruiting potential new blood stem cell donors as the registration cost to the charity for every one is £40.

The blood stem cell donation will take place from 11am-4pm on Saturday at Dundonald High School.

For those unable to attend you can get a donor pack online at

Belfast Telegraph


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