THE GIFT of a bone marrow donation is being urged this festive season by the Cox family of Bo’ness, whose youngest daughter Natasha was on the verge of needing one herself last Christmas.
At the tender age of seven, she has already needed three lifesaving medical treatments.
While regularly monitored, the P3 Kinneil Primary pupil described by dad George as ‘a wee trooper’ is currently pleasing doctors with her progress.
Natasha and sister Caitlin (12) hand delivered their letters to Santa on a magical, flying visit to Lapland last week, organised by charity, When You Wish Upon A Star.
The Coxes were whisked on a special flight with Girls Aloud popstar Nadine Coyle, radio presenters and others families for an unforgettable day of huskie rides, fireworks, an enchanted forest, and of course, Father Christmas himself!
Temperatures were minus 10 degrees, but they were blown away by everyone’s warm hospitality.
Mum Lesley-Anne (41) said it was all the more special as: “We missed a lot of the run up to Christmas last year. Natasha was in Yorkhill for three weeks for last-gasp treatment. We were really going down the bone marrow transplant route.”
Three perfect matches from outwith Europe were lined up, after Natasha had needed six months of platelet and haemoglobin transfusions for problems with her blood count.
Her bone marrow was working at just 20 per cent capacity and she had been diagnosed with aplastic anaemia.
But for a second time the feisty youngster - who faced a liver transplant in spring 2011 after being airlifted to Leeds - managed to turn the corner at the 11th hour and not require a transplant.
Natasha, who enjoys playing doctors and nurses, has proved a battler since her premature birth, undergoing surgery to insert a shunt to drain fluid from the brain aged just three months.
This left her with mild cerebral palsy and weakness down her left side.
“She is very, very brave and has taken everything in her stride,” said Lesley-Anne.
Encouraging people to donate bone marrow, she said: “You will never know if you or your family will ever need it later on in life.”
George (47) said: “When you go to the Sick Kids it really opens your eyes. It’s heartbreaking.”
For information visit www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/bonemarrow