The mother of a girl who beat stage 4 cancer is supporting the NHS campaign for more black people to try donating blood.
Kaitlyn Davis was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer aged just three but has survived thanks to treatment and blood donors.
Kaitlyn, from Cheshunt in Hertfordshire, had tumours in her brain and throughout her body including her legs, after developing a neuroblastoma in her stomach, and was given a 30% chance of survival.
She went on to have intensive treatment which included around 20 transfusions of blood and platelets and has been free from cancer for four years.
“I would watch as my little princess turned pale” mum Kate Holgate recalled. “Then, with a simple blood transfusion, the life would appear back in her face.
“For families like mine, I say thank you to those that give. She’s here today because of people we will never meet.”
Kaitlyn was diagnosed from an MRI scan in late 2014 after developing symptoms including a slight limp and a high temperature, and went on to be treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
“I was devastated and torn to bits,” said Kate.
Neuroblastoma is a rare type of cancer that mostly affects babies and young children. It develops from specialised nerve cells (neuroblasts) left behind from a baby’s development in the womb.
It affects around 100 children each year in the UK and is most common in children under the age of five.
Kaitlyn’s treatment included radiotherapy and high dose chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
Chemotherapy damages the body’s bone marrow, which is where blood is produced.
Before the high dose chemotherapy, Kaitlyn had some of her own bone marrow removed, so that it could transplanted back into her afterwards.
“The transfusions made the world of difference,” said Kate, who is studying HR Management at university.
“There are no words that say how grateful I am to the people who donate blood. They have no idea what difference it makes.
“If they could see her face, going from pale to the life coming back into it…how can you thank people enough when they have put a smile back on your child’s face and helped keep her alive?
Kaitlyn is now doing well, is still cancer free, and is in school.
Kate was inspired to become a blood donor herself and discovered she has a valuable Ro subtype, which is greatly in demand to help black people with the life threatening blood disorder sickle cell.
More and more black people are donating blood.
The number of black donors has risen by 29% in the last three years.
However there is still a shortage of black donors.
Black blood donors are more likely to have the same blood types as black patients.
The shortage of black donors means it’s harder to find blood for black patients and they are at greater risk of transfusion reactions.
An NHS Blood and Transplant spokesperson said: “We’re so grateful to all the donors who helped Kaitlyn. We urge anyone inspired by her story to consider donating – it’s quick, safe and easy, and you will save lives.”
Register as a donor at www.blood.co.uk