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Bone Marrow Stem Cell Transplant Saves Two-Year-Old Lyla-Mae


Lyla-Mae O’Rourke’s parents received the devastating news by doctors that their daughter only had two weeks to live following a battle with cancer.

Before she reached a year old, Lyla-Mae was diagnosed with infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This was a result of suffering a viral infection when she was just six-months old.

When she was diagnosed, doctors broke it to her parents that she would need immediate chemotherapy sessions in an effort to save her life.

After chemotherapy, it was concluded by a team of experts that it would not be effective, and she would in fact need a bone marrow transplant in hope to reset her immune system.

Leoni, Lyla-Mae’s older sister bravely stepped in to help at just ten-year-old.

Doctors then took stem cells from Leoni as a donor as she had healthy blood-forming cells and then transferred them to the patient’s (Lyla-Mae’s) bloodstream.

Once the health stem cells are in the bloodstream, they can start to grow and produce healthy blood cells and platelets again. Doing this essentially resets the immune system, so in Lyla-Mae’s circumstances her immune system would return to how it was before the viral infection and only get stronger.

Leoni at such a young age suffered through surgery to give her sister the bone marrow stem cells that were so vital for her life.

Finally, after chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant, Lyla-Mae has finally been given the all clear, her parents can celebrate being able to live a more normal life, with the hope of minimal hospital treatment in the future.

Lyla-Mae and sister Leoni

Lyla-Mae and Sister Leoni [Credit: Manchester Evening News]

Ryan O’Rourke, the girl’s father, said: “Knowing Leoni did this makes you feel so proud as parents.”

The young girl is now planning on starting nursery this September thanks to her old sister.

Jade, the mum of the two, 27, added: “Lyla is so excited to go to school. We are really happy it’s all finally over. We can finally get our lives back.”

Both the girl’s parents Ryan O’Rourke and Jade Richards were understandably overwhelmed with happiness following the news.

Ryan, 33, from Failsworth, said: “She has recovered so well from the bone marrow transplant. Children are normally in the hospital for between six and ten weeks and just after three weeks she is being allowed home.

“Results from her bone marrow shows there are minimal bad cells, which to me and you mean it’s a negative result and the leukemia has gone.

“It felt like a massive weight has been lifted, it doesn’t feel real.”

“They are both back to their usual selves arguing over toys, but I couldn’t be happier.”

Lyla-Mae will need regular check-ups but should only need to take penicillin going forward.

Leoni said: “I feel happy I did this because I will make Lyla better when she gets a bit older. And she will be able to do the things that she hasn’t done, that other kids her age do.”

For all Leoni was a stem cell match for Lyla-Mae, around 70% of those in need are unable to find a sibling match so rely on the generosity of strangers.  Thousands of people each year in the US need a lifesaving stem cell transplant.


The blood type cells found in bone marrow are known as Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and are often banked at birth from cord blood. A different type cell mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) are also found in Bone Marrow, these can be banked and use for potentially many different treatments in the future via an alternative non-invasive process from milk teeth.

Protect Their Future Health

We believe the best stem cells to use in emerging treatments will be the patient’s own stem cells as this doesn’t require a search for a suitable donor and in turn, eliminates chances of the transplanted cells being rejected.

If you want more information on how you can protect your child’s future health by banking their cells, get in touch with our friendly team today or order your free information pack