ULRIKA Dandekar had everything she had ever dreamt of.
A doting family, friends she could have a laugh with and the knowledge the world was her oyster.
But after finding a lump under her arm her world was turned upside down.
The 21-year-old from Solihull was diagnosed with Anaplastic Lymphoma, a rare blood cancer, in March and has spent every day since fighting the disease.
But unfortunately for the former Alderbrook School pupil all treatments so far have not worked and she is now desperately searching for a stem cell match.
But the odds are stacked against Ulrika, with just one in 125,000 likelihood of finding a match because of her Asian background.
She said: “My treatment is now described by doctors as refractory, salvage and palliative.
“Having exhausted all other options, my only hope now is a stem cell transplant.
“I was told my brother isn’t a stem cell match for me and now I have to look further afield.
“My family and I are now beginning a worldwide search for an unrelated donor, which is like searching for a needle in a haystack.”
Now a desperate search has been launched for a donor –
Her emotional plea for help comes during National Transplant Week which began on Monday.
Transplanted organs require the same blood and tissue type in order to prevent rejection by the body’s immune system.
However, compared to organ transplants, bone marrow donations need to be even more genetically similar to their recipients.
Since all the immune system’s cells come from bone marrow, a transplant actually introduces a new immune system to a person.
Without genetic similarity between the donor and the patient, the new white blood cells will attack the host body.
In an organ transplant, the body can reject the organ, but with marrow, the new immune system can reject the whole body.
Ulrika has been raising much-needed funds for Cancer Research UK, running the Birmingham Race for Life and raised a staggering £941 for charity.
Ulrika and her family are also creating a You Tube channel in honour of The Anthony Nolan Trust showing how easy it is to donate stem cells.
The trust is a UK stem cell register that enables patients who need a stem cell, bone marrow or cord blood transplant to find a match.
Anyone aged 16 to 30 years old and interested in donating stem cells or bone marrow register their interest by visiting www.anthonynolan.org or calling 0303 303 0303.