Virus rules out help for baby Liya

  Jul 13, 2020 10:15 am Ibrar Younas 1263
The parents of a desperately ill baby have launched a worldwide search for a blood stem cell donation after being told that their child may have just three weeks to live – and although the family are Turkish, corona virus restrictions mean the people of North Cyprus cannot help.

Virus rules out help for baby Liya

In February, after a series of tests, 18-month-old Liya Gumusoz was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) a rare and aggressive type of cancer which affects one in 3,100 people. Doctors have now told the family that Liya must receive a blood stem cell donation by the end of July if she is to beat the disease.

But the Kemal Saraçoğlu Foundation for Children with Leukaemia and Cancer, which contributes to the international database of donors, has had to tell the family that the corona virus restrictions prevent them from seeking a donor here.

 Coordinator Övgü İnce, said: “We explained to them that their health care provider will seek to find a local DNA match first. If this is not successful they will then approach the international database to see if a suitable match can be found there.

“Unfortunately, even if people in North Cyprus wanted to come forward to help, we are unable to take saliva for testing because of the legal ban on undertaking such procedures due to Covid-19. We are waiting for a new decision to be taken by the Health Ministry in due course as we don’t want to place either the patients or our personnel at risk,” she said.  

“I couldn’t breathe, I felt like my heart had been stabbed over and over again. I just sobbed, all I wanted to do was leave the room and go and cuddle my baby”


Liya’s parents, Ufuk and Hatice Gumusoz, who are originally from Turkey but now live in Twickenham,  southwest London,first noticed something was wrong at the start of the year.

Liya, their only child,  became tired more easily, lost her appetite and had unusual bruising on her body. It was when Liya began to have difficulty walking that her parents knew something was not right.

Speaking to PA new agency, Mrs Gumosoz said: “It was on a Sunday morning, she woke up again screaming and wasn’t able to move at all.”

After searching online for possible reasons, Mrs Gumosoz found that it could be leukaemia.“I was praying that it wasn’t leukaemia,” a tearful Mrs Gumosoz said. “She was absolutely fine until then.”

Mrs Gumosoz said she has spent only nine nights at home in the past three months while Liya has had various tests and scans in hospital.

Liya was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London as the pandemic took hold, which meant only one parent was allowed to see their daughter.

The worried couple faced a terrible wait for news on their daughter’s condition, but their worst nightmares were realised when a hematologist confirmed Liya has leukaemia.

Mrs Gumosoz said: “I couldn’t breathe, I felt like my heart had been stabbed over and over again.I just sobbed, all I wanted to do was leave the room and go and cuddle my baby.”

Liya began chemotherapy, but it is not enough to beat the leukaemia. Due to the aggressiveness of the cancer, her only chance of survival is to find a blood stem cell donor.

Only two per cent of the UK population are on the blood stem cell donor register, and the number of people signing up as potential donors has drastically fallen in the wake of the corona virus pandemic. Currently, there is nobody on the register who is a close enough genetic match to Liya.

Mrs Gumosoz said: “I know that it’s a tough time that we’re going through with all this lockdown, but all these kids they need blood transfusions and they need just basic help really.

“People should donate, it’s only their blood, their stem cells, it’s a very basic procedure.It only takes a couple of hours to do it and you can save one person’s life. It could still  save her.”