On Saturday 18th September, a swab test drop-in will be held in the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre from 10 am – 6 pm to find a stem cell donor match for Esha, a 4 year-old girl suffering from acute myeloid leukaemia.
Esha was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in May. It is cancer of the myeloid cells, a type of white blood cell which fights bacterial infections and prevents the spread of tissue damage. She spent 15 weeks at Great Ormond Street Hospital, going through two cycles of chemotherapy with no success. The charity Anthony Nolan, which helps those who need stem cell transplants, launched a stem cell donor drive on Esha’s behalf to find her a match.
A donor was found on the 15th of September, but the drop-in sessions will continue to take place to find a closer match. Several donors are usually needed to ensure a successful stem cell transplant, as some donors may not be a sufficiently high percentage match or healthy enough.
A stem cell donor needs to have a similar tissue type to the recipient, which is the combination of proteins on the surface of one’s cells, called human leukocyte antigen (HLA) markers. This is so that the recipient’s immune system will not reject the donor’s stem cells.
The drop-in session at LSE is held as part of a larger stem cell donor drive that will run from the 10th to the 19th of September, with 29 drop-in events mostly in London and across the UK, including Manchester and Leicester.
Two members of Esha’s family, who are LSE alumni, reached out to the LSESU two weeks ago to ask for support. “We felt it was our duty to help,” said Josie Stephens, the General Secretary of the LSE Students’ Union. “We believe LSE students would want to help Esha, particularly as her need is so urgent.”
The LSE Students’ Union has had a history of partnering with different charities to work for social betterment, most notably St Mungo’s homelessness charity, providing support for research, fundraising and volunteers, amongst other areas.
Esha’s family could not be reached for comment at the time of the article’s publishing.