Simon Cowell has lent his support to the campaign to help find terminally-ill schoolgirl Abi Longfellow an organ donor, before it’s too late.
Abi,15, was granted the life-saving wonder drug Eculizumab after more than 200,000 Sunday People readers petitioned the Government.
But although NHS England changed the law so the medicine is now ready for her to use, Abi can’t begin her treatment until a new kidney is found.
Britain’s Got Talent judge Simon, a long-term supporter of the schoolgirl, today begs potential donors to come forward and be tested to see if they could be a match and save her life.
“Abi Longfellow is a true fighter,” said the dad of one.
“Whilst she now has the drug she needs, Abi has met another hurdle – and has to find a matching kidney donor.
“And this needs to happen soon.”
So far, the only match docs have found is Abi’s mum, Jo. But heartbreakingly, they will not allow her to undergo the surgery because of her own medical problems.
Abi’s only chance now is for a stranger to come forward.
Simon, 58, who dotes on his four-year-old son Eric, continued: “If anyone believes they are a match, please do consider coming forward to help this brave young woman.”
Abi, who receives dialysis at Leeds General Infirmary for four hours a day, four times a week, said: “I’m overwhelmed at the support I’ve received and amazed to hear Simon Cowell continues to care and has put out this statement to help me.
“I hope this doesn’t just help me but the many other people who need life saving transplants.”
And Abi’s mum Jo, 48, is delighted with Cowell’s public backing.
“It’s priceless to receive Simon Cowell’s support for a second time, for him to do such a big thing for Abi,” she said. “It really means the world.
“I’m just so thankful, I just want to give him a huge hug and say, ‘From one parent to another: thank you’. It’s hard to put in words how important it is for us to get Abi that transplant as soon as we possibly can. We’ve fought for so long and the wait is causing her complications.
“As parents, you’re so desperately passionate to find that donor but when you hear people are putting themselves out to help you, it’s amazing, especially someone so well-known. As a mother who simply lives for her daughter, speaking to a father who we see loves his son dearly, my clumsy words of gratitude could never be enough.
“It is so lovely he would care enough to help someone who he doesn’t know but I have no doubt he would love her to bits if her met Abi. She’s a good soul with a huge heart.”
Abi’s two-year fight for the right to receive the £137,000-a-year post-transplant drug to improve her chances of survival after surgery means hundreds of other patients in her predicament will also be awarded the treatment.
But the only kidney to match the schoolgirl’s blood and tissue type is that of her mum, who cannot have surgery.
Abi’s dad Andy, 48, was initially thought to be a match but testing revealed his daughter’s body might reject his kidney.
The only hope for the family, from Wakefield, West Yorks, is for a suitable member of the public to come forward – and fast.
Abi was diagnosed in March 2013 with the rare auto-immune condition Dense Deposit Disease, which stops her kidneys functioning.
The lack of a donor kidney is a cruel twist of fate after the Sunday People readers signed a 200,000-strong petition in May 2015 to put pressure on then-Prime Minister David Cameron.
Lawyer Yogi Amin gave his expert advice for free and in February last year NHS England finally agreed to fund the drug. Three months ago, following a Daily Mirror campaign, MPs voted for an opt-out system where everyone is considered a donor unless they state otherwise. But this is too late for Abi.
She is a potential match with people who have blood types O or A – the UK’s most common types.
“We won’t rest until we’ve exhausted every opportunity,” said Jo.
“It’s so important we get past this next step now.”