SELFLESS: Damian Cross from Coraki has leukaemia and his 14-year-old daughter Shaunais donating her bone marrow to her father.
SELFLESS: Damian Cross from Coraki has leukaemia and his 14-year-old daughter Shaunais donating her bone marrow to her father.

14-year-old girl is only chance to save dad’s life

IN A stark hospital room, Damian Cross waits for his 14-year-old daughter to save his life.

Shauna is less than 10km away at the Queensland Children's Hospital having her bone marrow extracted.

Despite only being a half match for her father, it was the best solution during a time when full match bone marrow was difficult to come by due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The family are a long way from their Coraki home where for a year Damian has been in remission from leukaemia after five rounds of chemotherapy.

"Leukaemia has come back and my only hope for cure now is my 14-year-old daughter," he said.

At Royal Brisbane Hospital with his partner Amy Rolfe by his side, the 33-year-old was under sedation for a bone marrow biopsy.

Shauna's bone marrow will be collected through a needle in her neck.

"Shauna has a fear of needles but hasn't batted an eye at the catheter in her neck," Amy said.

Coraki's Damian Cross in hospital in Brisbane waiting for a bone marrow transplant from his 14 year old daughter. PIC: AMY ROLFE
Coraki's Damian Cross in hospital in Brisbane waiting for a bone marrow transplant from his 14 year old daughter. PIC: AMY ROLFE Amy Rolfe

In preparation to receive his daughter's bone marrow, Damian will undergo three days of chemotherapy and four days of radiation to wipe out his cells.

"Then he gets her cells," Amy said.

Donor cells, especially when they are a half match, could attack Damian's cells.

"He'll be here for 100 days after the transplant," Amy said.

"Three to four weeks in hospital and then we have to stay in Brisbane for three months."

Damian will be on anti-rejection drugs and the procedure can fail within a three-year period.

The family is hopeful though and urge Australians to consider registering for bone marrow donation through the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

The World Marrow Donor Association operates a global database to find the best stem cell

source with a database of 36,214,535 donors from 98 different registries in 53 different countries.

Amy said Germany had the best bone marrow donor rate.

The WMDA said COVID-19 infection had the potential to impact and interfere with the timely provision of cells across international borders.

It is currently uncertain whether COVID-19 is transmissible parenterally, and it seems prudent to defer donors from countries with a high rate of COVID-19 infection, WMDA said.

Support the family through their crowdfunding campaign.


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