An Alness family say they are living life to the full amidst their search for a life-changing stem cell donor for their daughter.
Little Josie Davidson has a rare genetic mutation dnajc21 – the same condition her elder sister Adeline was also diagnosed with.
For more than two years, their parents Steph, 29, and 32-year-old Jordan left no stone unturned as they searched for a donor match for Adeline, who is now 7.
And in 2021, she was given a new lease of life after undergoing a long-awaited transplant.
More than two years later, the Ross-shire family of five are still searching for a perfect donor for Josie, who is 4.
Miraculously, Josie has a twin brother – Jude – who doesn’t share the same condition as his sisters.
‘We are just living in the moment’
Their mother Steph says they embrace every moment together and look upon Josie’s journey as part of their “normal” lives.
She said: “Adeline’s transplant gave her a new life and now we’re desperately seeking the same for her little sister, Josie.
“Sadly, both of our girls have genetic conditions that contribute to bone marrow failure amongst other things they deal with daily.
“Josie is stable. It is simply the fact we can’t go any further until she gets worse or we find a match.”
Despite the desperate search for a match, the family try to make the most of every day.
Steph said: “We are just living in the moment and taking it as it comes. It is always in the background and in your head somewhere.
“Right now we are getting ready for Christmas, there is no medical chat. We are just getting on with it. It has just become normal.”
‘You could save someone’s life’
The couple’s search has led them to several potential matches however, due to Josie’s rare condition, they weren’t viable.
Steph said that doctors are ideally looking for a perfect match to ensure the best outcome.
This month, DKMS UK has renewed its appeal for potential donors to sign up to the register as the search for Josie’s perfect stem cell match continues.
Steph says the girl’s journey has inspired several people to sign up and save a life – something they are extremely grateful for.
However, she says more donors are needed to help give adults and children, like Josie, a bright future.
Steph said: “People have this thought and perception that it is something grim and horrible that you need to do (to register). It is just a swab and if someone gets in touch with you and says, “You could save someone’s life,” why wouldn’t you want to do that?
“We know of four or five people who have signed up because of the girls and have actually given marrow themselves now. It really is amazing and I am just so thankful and grateful for that.
“Even though it hasn’t been for Josie, it was linked to Adeline and Josie and hopefully saved another four people that needed that somewhere in the world.
“It is an amazing thing to do and it is so easy.”
In a statement, DKMS UK spokeswoman Deborah Hyde said: “Everyone at DKMS feels the heartache that Steph, her family and everyone who loves little Josie are going through whilst they wait for a stem cell donor match to be found for her – not least because Josie’s older sister, Adeline, also needed a stem cell transplant in 2021.
“Anyone aged 17 to 55 who is in general health can join the DKMS register of potential stem cell donors by completing a simple mouth swab kit, but only 2.4% of the eligible population in Scotland is currently signed up.
“You can quickly and easily join our register online at dkms.org.uk – you could be offering a blood cancer patient like Josie a second chance at life.”