Ava’s search for life-saving hero given lift by firefighters

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to hold open patient appeal for stem cell donors in Lochgelly.

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Search: Ava Stark, three, needs a stem cell transplant. SFRS

A major drive has been launched to find a life-saving stem cell donor for little Ava Stark.

The three-year-old was hit by a devastating setback for the second time in four months after a donor who was a rare match had to pull out due to medical reasons.

The youngster from Lochgelly in Fife suffers from a rare blood condition which will prove fatal if a stem cell transplant is not performed.

Now the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has teamed up with blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan Trust to urge potential donors to come forward.

The service is hosting an open patient appeal is being held at Lochgelly High on Saturday.

Group manager Andy Watt, who chairs the partnership on behalf of the fire service, said: “As soon as we heard about Ava’s story we decided to see what we could do to help.

“Staff members from Ava’s local area immediately volunteered and are planning a series of events in the hope of finding a match for Ava.”

SFRS group manager Mark Bryce said: “Our intention is to roll out our life-saving Anthony Nolan school programme across Fife and we could think of no better place to start this than in Ava’s home town of Lochgelly.

“However, as well as giving school pupils the chance to join the register we have decided that in order to find Ava a new hero we would organise an open event in partnership with Lochgelly High School.”

Ava’s mum Marie said: “We have been blown away with the support of the public and to hear that the fire service has offered their support means the world to us.

“Ava had an amazing day with the firefighters and they told her they were determined to find a new hero for her.

“This event won’t just help Ava but could help hundreds of others now and in the future. So please if you fit the criteria come along and give a spit and help save my little girl.”

Anyone between the ages of 16-30 and in good health can come along on Saturday between 10am and 4pm.

By giving a small saliva sample, they will be able to join the stem cell register.

The match must be coherent with all of Ava’s genetic markers for any operation to go ahead and should the stem cells be needed the procedure to extract them is similar to that of giving blood.