Ziwar (11) urgently needs a stem cell donor

Several hundred people have registered as stem cell donors since last year because of the fate of the Syrian boy from Hameln in Lower Saxony. Sadly, Ziwar’s lifesaver has not been among them yet.

Deutsche Version

Ziwar Cheikho was only two years old when, in 2008, the first symptoms of a life-threatening disease appeared: autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA), a severe blood disorder. The red blood cells that carry oxygen through the body become broken down too much and too early. In 2011, the ongoing civil war plunged his homeland Syria into chaos. The medical care for Ziwar was not secured anymore. One year later Ziwar’s father Ammar, who demonstrated against the Assad regime and was tortured in prison, decided to leave the country and to go there, where his ill son has a better chance of survival. There daring escape brought them to Hameln in the northern part of Germany. In 2014, Ziwar’s mother and his younger brothers followed them.

Normally, the lively Ziwar is in the 4th grade and loves to play football with his brothers and friends. His big role models: Lionel Messi and Marco Reus. But, now Ziwar has to fight for his life. The drugs don’t work anymore and the 11-year-old is very susceptible to infections. Currently, he receives another chemotherapy treatment at Hannover Medical School (MHH). The only possibility of survival for the brave boy is a stem cell donation from a „genetic twin“.

Many people have become active on Ziwar’s behalf. The IMPULS GmbH in Hameln doesn’t only support his father regarding his professional qualification and integration. In their rooms, a registration campaign with the Norddeutsches Knochenmark- und Stammzellspender-Register (NKR, North German bone marrow and stem cell donor registry) took place in September 2016 as well. 217 new donors were tested. Thus the tissue characteristics, which are elementary for a stem cell donation, also depend on the regional origin, the probability of a match with Ziwar is higher among people that have similar roots. Within Germany, we have sent hundreds of registration sets to whole families from the near east. In other European countries, many people decided to register as well for Ziwar and other people with blood cancer.

Due to the bad health status of the brave boy, stem cells from an only 70 percent matching donor were transplanted recently. Sadly, the transplantation was not successful – Ziwar is still waiting for his lifesaver.

Therefore, we encourage once more to become registered as a stem cell donor for Ziwar and all the other patients in need. Every person between 18 and 55 years and in good health (check medical exclusion criteria), who is not yet registered at NKR or another stem cell donor registry (check registries in Germany, registries worldwide), can be tested with cotton swabs. Here you can order a typing set from us. If you do not live in Germany, check this list for a registry in your country.

Getting registered is basically for free for a new donor. But the lab costs to analyse a swab are 40 Euro, which NKR pays. To register more potential lifesavers, we rely on donations. Here you find more information.