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East London girl, 4, with cancer has three weeks to live unless a donor is found


The family of a four-year-old girl diagnosed with leukaemia is on a race to find a stem cell donor by the end of the month to save her life.

Esha Nadeswaran, 4, who lives with Mum Kavitha and Dad Rish in Redbridge, East London, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia just four months ago, on May 13 2021.

She has been at Great Ormond Street Hospital but two intensive cycles of chemotherapy have been unsuccessful and she now urgently needs to find a stem cell donor with the right genetic match to save her life within the next three weeks.

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Esha Nadeswaran, four, mum Kavitha, dad Rish and older sister Ria, nine

Esha’s aunt, Meera Visakan , said: “This has been so heart-breaking for the family.

“It all just happened so quickly. Esha said she was tired, lost her appetite and developed bruising on her leg. But then a series of blood tests confirmed the devastating news.

“Your world is turned upside down, you can’t sleep, eat or breath really.

“I can’t emphasise enough our plea to the public to sign up to be a stem cell donor to save her life or even a child in a similar situation. If we don’t there are no other treatments available [for Esha].

“The process is easier than doing a Covid test”

Stem cells can grow into any other cell in your body and this means they can be used to treat a wide range of blood cancers and disorders.

For some people, a stem cell transplant (also known as a bone marrow transplant) is the only hope of survival.

However, 65 to 75% of those in need (about 400 UK patients) are unable to find a sibling match so rely on the generosity of strangers.

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Esha dressed as Princess Jasmine just months before we the devastating news.

Esha’s sister Ria, nine, and their parents are not a stem cell match.

A match is more likely from someone who is of the same ethnicity and therefore Esha’s family are particularly appealing to those with South Asian heritage.

Meera spoke about how heart-breaking it has been to see such Esha go through this. She said: “Esha is funny, bubbly and cheeky. She loves Disney princess movies – especially Princess Jasmine at the moment.

“She even mustered up the energy to give a thank you message to everyone in the hospital.

“We just want to see that smile again.”

The family has been inundated with support so far.

“When it happens to you and your own family, you see the support of strangers and the kindness of people,” Meera said.

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.

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How to see if you are a match

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.

The family are continuing to host various drop-in swab events across London in a desperate bid to identify a viable stem cell donor.

You can read more about Esha’s story and learn how to sign up to be a donor on the family’s dedicated page here.

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