EastEnders star Priya Davdra has backed a campaign to help save a 12-year-old girl with a life-threatening blood disorder.
The soap star, who plays Iqra Ahmed in the BBC show, has urged people to return their home swab kits to blood cancer charity DKMS to help save the life of Arya Lloyd, from Cambridge, whose only chance of survival is a blood stem cell transplant.
The charity launched a global appeal to find a donor in November 2020 and more than 7,000 Britons, including Davdra, ordered a free home swab kit from the charity.
However 3,326 of the 7,628 swab kits requested remain unreturned to DKMS, and Davdra has issued a plea for people to return their kits in the hope of finding a donor.
She said: “I just wanted to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to each and every one of you who have either donated, or signed up onto the register.
“You guys are amazing, so thank you so much.
“If you have signed up, and you have received your swab kit, but for whatever reason haven’t managed to send it back, please do at your earliest convenience.
“You’ve come this far, so let’s complete the process, and hopefully, together we can find a match for Arya and many others like her.”
Arya was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia, a condition which occurs when bone marrow and stem cells do not produce enough blood cells, last May after she complained to her parents of stomach pains.
Around 30 to 40 children are diagnosed with the disease each year and doctors told Arya’s parents her best chance of survival would be through a blood stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor.
Blood cancer patients from black, Asian or minority ethnicity groups face lower survival odds due to the lack of donor diversity, DKMS said.
These patients have just a 20% chance of finding the best possible stem cell donor match, compared to 69% for northern European backgrounds.
Donors from minority ethnic backgrounds make up just 13.1% of the UK stem cell register and because black, Asian or ethnic minority patients tend to have more varied tissue there is an even more specific biological requirement needed of a donor than for a white patient, the charity added.
DKMS has called for blood stem cell donors from all backgrounds aged between 17-55 and in good general health.
People can register online at www.dkms.org.uk/arya for a home swab kit.