THE family of a little girl who needs a life-saving bone marrow donor are a third of the way towards their fundraising target.
The parents of Ayesha Siddiqui have raised £50,000 towards the £150,000 they want to help find her a donor.
As reported in the Evening Times, a worldwide search of a million people has so far failed to find a match for the seven-year-old, who has leukemia.
The family, with the help of charity Anthony Nolan, launched the drive to find someone, but they also want to pay for processing new people who come forward to be tested.
It costs £100 for each new person to join the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register.
And they managed to reach the milestone figure after launching the appeal just two months ago, in February.
Ayesha's dad, Nadeem, 50, from Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire, said they have been inundated with people pledging money – including from those they've never met who read about Ayesha in the Evening Times. He said: "We are just astonished at people's generosity."
As reported in the Evening Times Nadeem, who works as a cancer consultant at the Royal Infirmary, said discovering Ayesha had the illness this time last year was "like a bad dream".
She had been feeling ill, and doctors at Yorkhill Sick Kid's Hospital diagnosed a rare form of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia called Philadelphia Positive last year.
Doctors say she may need a bone marrow transplant, however none of the family, including her four year-old brother Saif, are suitable.
Because Ayesha is from a mixed race background, it's harder to find a match.
While 90% of Northern European patients will find a match, only 40% of patents from an ethnic background will.
Glasgow comedians Sanjeev and Hardeep Singh Kohli have joined the campaign, urging as many people as possible to get tested and join the register.
Ayesha is currently having her latest dose of chemotherapy.
Nadeem said: "She's at home at the moment and we go in every week for additional chemo – at home she has the tablets and every Tuesday she's in all day, and that's going to continue for the whole of this month.
"She's on a very high doses of steroids so is looking bloated and is very tired and weak."
Family and friends and even teachers at her school, Kirkhill Primary have arranged fundraising events and others are planning to take part in sponsored events including Glasgow's 10k and the Edinburgh marathon.
Nadeem's cousin Yasmeen, who lives in San Francisco, has even held a drive for bone marrow donors in the city over Easter.
Also planned is an event for ethnic minorities in Glasgow to sign up.
The family's next fundraiser will be a Question Of Sport evening on May 3 at the Thistle Hotel in Glasgow city centre.
Children's Aid, a local Glasgow charity, has helped organise the evening.
It will be hosted by Sky Sport's Alan McInally and Jim White.
Tickets cost £100 or £1000 for a table.
To book, visit www.childrens aidscotland.com
Our reporter SARAH SWAIN took the bone marrow test that could save Ayesha's life.
I'M unlikely to be a match for Ayesha – it's likely to be somebody from an ethnic minority who could help her.
But after hearing about her search for a donor, I wanted to see if I could help other people by joining the Anthony Nolan register myself.
After filling out an application form on the charity's website, a package arrived in the post.
In it was an elaborate-looking plastic device to collect a saliva sample.
That's how the charity tests to see if people could be a match- in fact broadcaster Charlie Brooker fronts the charity's latest campaign which is dubbed Are You fit to Spit?
The charity will extract DNA from my sample, to see if I could be a compatible bone marrow donor for somebody, somewhere in the world.
Just like Ayesha's family there could be another family somewhere else in the UK or the rest of the world anxiously hoping a match would be found.
I'm instructed not to eat or drink anything for half an hour before giving my sample, plus told how much saliva I need to provide. And it may not sound like nice thing to do, it's important.
And if you're a young man, its really important. Men aged 18-30 are more likely to be chosen to donate, but they currently account for just 12% of donors on the register.
After sealing my sample I send it away in the freepost envelope provided.
Once scientists have processed it, I'll be placed on the register.
I could be called upon to become a donor right away, it could be 20 years, or never.
And while people think it's painful if you do need to give one – it could involve a general anaesthetic or can be done via a vein in your arm – according to the charity the discomfort isn't bad, and most people say it's worth it knowing they could have saved a life.
To register to be a donor see the website www.anthonynolan.org or call 0303 3033000.
To donate money visit Ayesha's Appeal fundraising page – Virgin Money www. uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Ayeshaappeal