“Your kindness has helped save my baby’s life”
By the time Aila turned one she had already received 40 units of blood and platelets after being diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia when was just five months old...
Give platelets this Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and help up to 12 children. More donors with blood types A negative, A positive, AB negative are needed. Find out more about platelets.
“By the time my daughter, Aila, turned one in February, she had already received 40 units of blood and platelets. She was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia – a rare leukaemia in such a young baby, and one that came with very intense chemotherapy – at just five months old.
(Picture: Roisin and her daughter Aila in hospital)
“Aila had not been looking well for a few weeks, her sleeping pattern had changed and her breathing became really loud. She also was not gaining any weight, I noticed her eyes were bulging and bruised lumps had appeared on her body. We had been back and forth to the hospital and GP, then we had a blood test. Less than three hours later we were told to pack an overnight bag and get to the hospital urgently. As soon as we arrived, the doctors took us into a side room and told us to take a seat as ‘we were about to have a conversation we would never forget’.
“They told us Aila had Leukaemia and that we were being transferred urgently to Southampton hospital where we had an intensive care bed waiting for her. An overnight bag suddenly turned into a six month stay, including Christmas and new year, on the ward.
"It isn’t how you plan your baby’s first Christmas, but the staff and charities made it magical.
Without all the blood and platelets she received she would not have beaten cancer.
“The thing with leukaemia is it starts as just one cell and that divides into two and they divide and so on, meaning it starts to multiply and take over the body very quickly.
"A usual count of white cells for Aila would have been 4-10. She had 257 per sample. With chemotherapy destroying all the cancerous cells it also destroys many other things. Typically, we all know things like hair follicles are very quickly destroyed but so were her red blood cells and platelets.
“Within the first week, Aila had already had several blood transfusions. Each one gave her more energy. That energy was essential in her being able to not only play and enjoy the days, but also to help fight the cancer. I knew when Aila was due a blood transfusion: she would get really lethargic and sleepy, she didn’t want to play and her skin would look really mottled.
"Then in would come the magic in the form of a bag of blood. Once she had received the blood, she would be up and about playing again and really wanting to get going.
“During treatment Aila was unable to recover her own blood counts, so each transfusion was able to help recover her body. Over the six months she had 40 transfusions in total: 15 blood and 25 platelets. Sometimes even three a day.
“Without all the blood and platelets she received she would not have beaten cancer.
More donors with A negative, AB negative and A positive blood types are needed to join the small community of just 10,000 donors regularly giving platelets across England.
Platelets from donors with these blood types are safe to give to almost everyone and are constantly needed by hospitals.
Platelets are tiny gold-coloured cells in your blood which help it to clot and stop bleeding. Platelet transfusions can help people with cancer and people who've lost a lot of blood after an accident, organ transplant and other surgery.
Nearly 70 per cent of platelet donations are used to help people with cancer. One donation can help up to three adults or 12 children.
Giving platelets can take up to two hours. Currently you can donate platelets at 25 donor centres across the country.
If you are interested in donating platelets a simple assessment will be carried out when you next donate blood to check your suitability. Find out more about platelet donation.
She gets to grow up and that is because of each and every one of you.
“Aila’s healthy red blood cells now sit at just over 100, but during treatment, they were half that. Her platelet count, now way above 400, was as low as 20 during treatment.
“I wish I could thank everyone that donated Aila blood or platelets personally. Your kindness and time have helped save my baby’s life.”
“During Aila’s treatment, I often shared her story and many of my friends and family have booked appointments or donated blood already.
(Picture: Aila at home)
“Aila had her last chemotherapy on Christmas morning 2022 and has reached remission. She rang her end of treatment bell on January 20th, 2023 and is now thriving at home. We are hopeful that she continues to stay in remission.
“Finally, we are able to walk in the fresh air, our families and friends can get to know her, she can play and enjoy life. She gets to grow up and that is because of each and every one of you. Every-time you donate you are saving someone, you saved my daughter and I will be forever grateful.
“Aila is now half a year out of treatment and is thriving at home. Since we got home in January she has learnt to walk, is learning new words everyday and is loving her food. We are still going in to monitor her bone marrow every couple of months but we are incredibly grateful to be remaining in remission. I remember the first morning we were home after six month’s admission, we danced in the kitchen while having our breakfast and it has been like this ever since."