Vithiya Alphons is a student in her final year at Cardiff University as a medical student. Last year, she became ill during a lecture and was sent to the hospital. While there, doctors reviewed the test results and diagnosed her with an aggressive form of Leukemia. Vithiya’s only chance at survival is to receive an integral stem cell transplant. As of yet, no such donor has come forth to help her out. Doctors fear that if a donor is not found soon, Vithaya only has approximately 8 weeks to live. As a result, her parents and friends are organizing an event to find a donor for her, pleading one last time for someone to come forth and help save Vithaya’s life.
Although Vithaya lives in London, her heritage is Sri Lankan. As a result, the best chance at finding a suitable stem cell donor is for someone with Asian heritage, specifically with a lineage from Sri Lanka, to come forth and offer to be a donor. Vithaya knew it would be tough to find a suitable donor, but had no idea it would be this hard, according to the Mirror.
“I knew it was going to be difficult because there aren’t many people from South Asian backgrounds who are signed up as donors.”
She continued to share her frustration that her life is in the hands of individuals that might not be educated enough to understand.
“It’s frustrating but I don’t think it’s about Asian people not wanting to sign up. They just don’t know what it is — they think it’s taking something from your bone.”
Vithaya’s family has scheduled an event to find a donor on March 5, hoping someone will come forth and donate. If the event is a failure, they will begin the process of planning Vithaya’s funeral.
“We have to raise awareness.”
Doctors have already placed Vithaya under four weeks of intensive chemotherapy treatment, hoping it would make a difference in holding off the leukemia and prolonging her life enough to find a suitable donor. However, the chemotherapy made her extremely weak and did little to hold off the leukemia.
Despite having Leukemia and a bleak diagnosis (unless a suitable donor comes forth), Vithaya hopes to return to her studies soon and continue onward toward graduation. Since she has spent so much time in the hospital, she asked if she could return to school until a donor was found, but doctors told her that would not be possible.
“I asked if I could go back to uni, and I remember the doctors looking at me and saying no way. They explained, ‘If you’d left it a few more days, your parents would have been organising your funeral this week.’ “
Shocked at the response, Vithaya couldn’t help but be happy she was still alive and that there is still a chance that she may come out of this with a happy ending.
To find a stem cell donation location in your area, search your location on the Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide website and sign up to donate. Even if your stem cells are not a match for Vithaya, you might help save the life of someone else.
[Image via Help, Save V’s Life/Facebook]