Record number of stem cell donors apply after Ex On The Beach star plea

A blood cancer charity has seen record numbers of people applying to become stem cell donors following a plea from former footballer and Ex On The Beach star Ashley Cain.

Mr Cain’s 12-week-old daughter Azaylia Diamond Cain was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukaemia when she was two months old.

Doctors recently told the reality star and his girlfriend Safiyya that, while their daughter had responded well to her chemotherapy and treatment, she would require a stem cell transplant from a stranger to be cured.

Anthony Nolan, a charity which recruits people aged between 16 and 30 to join the stem cell register, is now searching for a donor for Azaylia.

Mr Cain appealed for potential donors to sign up on Friday and the charity has since seen 41,000 people apply within 48 hours, compared to the usual 100 per day.

Mr Cain said: “You know your own child and we knew she wasn’t well.

“She has a rare and aggressive form leukaemia that’s made even rarer by her being only eight-weeks-old when she was diagnosed.

“She has tumours on her lungs, stomach and kidneys.

“Finding out that your baby has a serious and life-threatening illness is something no parent in the world should have to go through.

“It was the single most upsetting, terrifying and heartbreaking experience we have ever been through.

Azaylia Diamond
Azaylia Diamond was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukaemia when she was two months old (Anthony Nolan/PA)

“Something that is not only incomprehensible, but it also has a devastating impact on our physical and mental health.”

Azaylia has Caribbean, Indian and northern European ethnicity, which means she has a 20% chance of finding an unrelated stem cell donor match, compared to a 69% chance for people with white European heritage.

Mr Cain added: “It’s out of Azaylia’s hands now, she’s almost climbed this mountain, but she now needs someone else’s hand to help her get to the top.

“She can’t do this on her own, she needs a donor.”

As well as appealing for more donors to apply, Anthony Nolan is appealing for financial support as it costs £40 for each donor to be registered.

Henny Braund, chief executive at the charity, said: “We are extremely grateful to Ashley for using his platform to raise awareness of the need for more stem cell donors.

“It’s incredible that so many people have been inspired by Azaylia’s story to join the register.

“Every single one of the new potential donors has the potential to give hope to little girls, like Azaylia, who are in desperate need of an urgent stem cell transplant.”

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