A campaign has been launched to find a bone marrow donor for a Colne girl who desperately needs a transplant.
Six-year-old Malaikah Hussain, who attends Lord Street Primary School, requires a transplant as soon as possible to repair her defective immune system.
Malaikah has been unable to fight off infections without the help of drugs since the age of 18 months when she contracted the potentially fatal Steven Johnson syndrome.
However, despite being on a life support machine in Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, she pulled through and battled her way back to be able to attend school, compete in sports activities and fulfil her hobbies.
Her parents Tariq and Nighat, of Exchange Street, Colne, are back and forth to the children’s hospital three or four times a week.
They are aware that Malaikah cannot stay on the drugs forever though, and are backing the bone marrow campaign started with the help of the school.
Dad Tariq said: “Malaikah is on a mix of steroids as she can’t fight infections because her immune system doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do. In the long term these drugs will be harmful to her.
“She was on life support for a long time. There are not many people survive what Malaikah did.
“They are now trying to build her up so she can face the transplant. It’s going to be very hard for her.”
Mum Nighat said: “She’s such a cheerful child, outgoing, takes part in sports and does everything she can get involved with.
“She loves writing. At home there are just papers, pens and colours. Her room is full of teddies.”
The family has previously had to face up to the prospect of another of their children going through a bone marrow transplant when Malaikah’s brother Ismail had leukaemia, but he recovered without having the need for it and has been in remission for 10 years.
Malaikah’s other brother and her two sisters are to be tested to see if they are a match on August 4th, and if they are not, the search will then widen.
The plan is for Malaikah to undergo a transplant in October, a month before her seventh birthday, and the school headteacher Duncan Hetherington believes staff, pupils and parents could help find that match if one has not been found during the summer holiday.
He said: “Malaikah has a real thirst for learning. She’s fabulous.
“We are hoping we can help Malaikah in getting more people to come forward to be bone marrow donors.
“We are going to put out an information pack to parents probably in the first week or two of the new term in September.
“Working more closely in a Colne cluster now too, I’m hoping I can get other headteachers of Colne schools on board so we can send out a flyer or similar to widen that appeal.
“The idea is that if you didn’t come up with a donor match for Malaikah, you could come up as a donor for another child you don’t know who could live miles away. It’s all about the notion of helping others.”
Anybody wanting to find about more information about joining the bone marrow donation register can visit www.anthonynolan.org