"We will be raising money for the rest of our lives to say thank you"

A family who endured three months of isolation while waiting for a bone marrow transplant have backed our National Elf Service to transform the Emergency Department and Cancer Ward which saved her life.

Four-year-old Myla-Mae Hatcher woke up with unusual bruises on her body in December last year.

Concerned, Mum Danielle rushed her to the Emergency Department at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where they found the platelet count and red blood cells in her blood was low, while the white blood cells were non-existent

Doctors conducted a biopsy which found that Myla’s bone marrow was completely empty and she was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called Aplastic Anemia.

“I remember feeling so confused. I didn’t even know that was possible” Mum Danielle recalls.

The condition occurs when the bone marrow and stem cells do not produce enough blood cells. It only affects between 30 and 40 children in the UK every year.

Just one week later, the family were asked to bring Myla’s three-month old brother, Rio, to see if he was a match and potential donor for the missing bone marrow.

“He wasn’t a match and I was heartbroken but almost relieved too. We didn’t see both our children going through so much pain” Danielle continued.

Myla was added to the Bone Marrow Registry and the search for a match began. In the meantime, the family visited the Cancer Ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital twice a week for blood and platelet transfusions to keep the youngster going.

As Myla lacked an immune system strong enough to resist infection, the family were confined to their house between hospital visits to prevent her catching a potentially fatal infection.

“My husband quit his job and we lived in isolation with our only respite the back and forth to Sheffield Children’s Hospital. The worst part was seeing Myla unable to do the things every four year old loves at Christmas; visiting Santa and seeing her friends” Danielle added.

After three months of waiting, Myla’s donor was finally found in February this year.

“He’s a 21 year old man, that’s all we know. Myla always says ‘My donor saved my life with his special blood’ and that’s exactly what he did. One day I hope we can meet him and let him know how grateful with them’.

The successful bone marrow transplant was followed by five weeks in isolation on the Cancer Ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital as her recovery continued.

“One year on, Myla has started school and she is now able to mix with other children. My husband has gone back to work and we feel like a normal family again”.

We want to expand the Emergency Department and Cancer Ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital which treated Myla. The proceeds from our Christmas fundraising, National Elf Service, will go towards the appeal and the family are urging others to back the effort.

“We will be raising funds for the rest of our lives to say thank you for Myla’s care, but if we can also inspire others to donate a few pounds or dress up as an elf, we know what a difference it will make to other children in the same situation” Danielle added.

To sign up for National Elf Service and help transform Sheffield Children’s Hospital, click here