The life of a four-year-old Disney princess loving girl is dependant on the “kindness of strangers” as her family beg members of the South Asian community to get tested to see if they could be the stem cell match that saves her life.
Esha Nadeswaran, from Redbridge, East London, has just a fortnight to live if her family can’t find her a match.
The “smiling” toddler, who has already missed her first day of school, isn’t a match with her immediate family including mother Kavitha and father Rish.
Esha was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia just four months ago and is being treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital where two intensive cycles of chemotherapy have been unsuccessful.
Her last chance is an urgent bone marrow (stem cell) transplant but her family said that she has just under 40 per cent chance of finding a match compared to a white caucasian child’s 70 per cent chance.
Her aunt Meera, 32, told the Standard: “It’s been a really devastating, stressful and worrying time.
“Her case is unique in the sense this is so sudden. Esha said she was tired, lost her appetite and developed bruising on her leg.
“But we only found out last week that her two rounds of chemo not working so she urgently needs [to find a match] in the next two weeks.
“She is depending on the kindness of a stranger to save her life and timing is of the essence.
“I’m so amazed at the public and the number of people who have offered to help and volunteer. It is easier to swab your cheek than to take a Covid test.
“For someone to be a match would be amazing, if not for Esha, then you would be saving another child’s life.”
She added: “She’s not doing great but her parents have been with her every day. It’s been soul-shattering for them.
“She is a normal 4-year-old girl. She loves Princess Jasmine, singing and dancing. She has such a big smile on her face and we just want to see that smile for a long, long time.”
Esha’s story has been shared by comedian Romesh Ranganathan and the family say the team at Great Ormond Street Hospital have been hugely supportive - including painting Esha’ nails and dancing and singing at any opportunity.
South Asians are heavily underrepresented in the registry and it is much more difficult for patients with a diverse ethnic heritage to find a matching donor. The procedure to donate stem cells is non-invasive and takes less than 2 minutes to sign up for.
To register as a donor, you must order a swab kit online, swabbing your cheeks and returning the kit.
You will then be added to the register and your sample analysed to determine your patch for a patient.