Dad appeals for people to become stem cell donors to help save his daughter’s life

Sean Smyth with his daughter Eimear who suffers from Hodgkin’s lymphoma

A WEST Belfast man has appealed to people across Northern Ireland to sign up to become stem cell donors in a bid to help save his daughter’s life.

Sean Smyth from west Belfast has launched a campaign to help his seriously ill daughter Eimear (24), who was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, in September 2016.

He is trying to raise awareness of the stem cell register, which allows donors of the correct tissue types to be matched with patients who need stem cell transplants.

“I can’t fix my daughter, but someone else can, someone who could join the register and become the donor that Eimear desperately needs,” he said.

Following Eimear’s diagnosis, she underwent 12 cycles of chemotherapy and was given the all-clear in Spring 2017. But a few weeks later, she felt unwell and tests found the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma had returned.

In December 2017, Eimear was treated with an autologous stem cell transplant, intensive chemotherapy and her own stem cells returned afterwards to rescue her bone marrow from the effect of the treatment.

After five weeks in isolation she returned home and 100 days later was given the good news she was in remission.

But the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma returned for a second time and doctors say her best chance of survival is to have another stem cell transplant – this time from an anonymous donor.

diagnosed with stage-two Hodgkin’s lymphoma in September 2016

“She was fit and healthy, but all of a sudden took ill,” said Mr Smyth.

“We were devastated when she got the news and again when it has returned. But we’re determined to help her get the help she needs.

“I don’t want to find one donor for my daughter, I want to find thousands more which is why we want to get more and more people signing the stem cell register, particularly young men aged 16 to 30 as they are underrepresented on the register and have the most powerful cells.”

Mr Smyth said he believes targetting young men at sporting venues such as GAA, football and rugby clubs could help increase the number of people on the register.

“Just two per cent of donors in Northern Ireland are males, ” he said.

“So I want to see rugby, GAA, football clubs, flute bands – anything that has young men involved to get onboard with this.

“I’m not doing it just for my daughter, I’m doing it for people across the world. I want people to know it’s very simple to get on the register, we need you.

“You could be the one to help Eimear or someone else in need.

“I can’t fix my daughter, but someone else can, someone who could join the register and become the donor that Eimear desperately needs.”

For further information, please visit ‘Eimears Search’ on Facebook.