Stem cell DNA match sought for three-month-old boy with aggressive rare cancer

Just 3,100 people are thought to be diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in the UK each year.

A family whose lives were “turned upside down” when their three-month-old baby was diagnosed with an aggressive and rare blood cancer are searching for a stem cell DNA match to maximise his chances of survival.

Francis, from Walton, Liverpool, was described by his mother Anna as a “joyful” baby who “hardly ever cried”.

He was given blood tests after she spotted an unexplained bruise on his arm when he was just six weeks old.

While initial tests failed to reveal anything abnormal, Francis was eventually given a bone marrow biopsy when he became very ill and tired.

Anna was told he has acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), a type of blood cancer which causes the bone marrow to make too many abnormal white blood cells and prevents it from making healthy blood cells.

According to the NHS, about 3,100 people are diagnosed with AML in the UK each year.

The risk of developing the disease increases with age and it is most common in those over the age of 75.

Francis’s biopsy showed his bone marrow was 80% cancer cells.

Anna said: “Finding out that our baby has blood cancer has completely turned our world upside down.

“You never think something like this will happen to you, you feel so desperate.

“We’re devastated that Francis is having to face something so hard so young.”

Francis has been admitted to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool where he will undergo chemotherapy before being transferred to Manchester Children’s Hospital in November.

Doctors have informed the family that at the end of his treatment, Francis will need a stem cell transplant as his only chance of a cure.

The family are now urging people to join the Anthony Nolan stem cell register in a bid to find Francis a match.

Anna said: “If you’re able to sign up, please consider becoming a stem cell donor.

“You could save the life of someone like Francis and give hope to their loved ones too.”

The signing up process requires filling out a form online.

Anthony Nolan will send those interested a cheek swab, which should be returned to the charity before a person is added to the register.

Henny Braund, chief executive of Anthony Nolan, said: “It would mean everything to Francis’s family to find him a donor before November when he will need his transplant.

“We will be supporting them as they wait for news of a donor who could give him a second chance at life.

“If you’re aged 16-30, in good health, you could give hope to someone like Francis by joining the Anthony Nolan register today.

“We are particularly urging young men to consider signing up – they are far more likely to be chosen to donate but they are less likely to sign up.”

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