Posted on Mar 08, 2019, 4 p.m.
A record number of some 5000 people showed up to stand in line in the rain to see if they were eligible to be a stem cell donor for a 5 year old patient battling cancer, and left the event organizers breathless.
Oscar Saxelby-Lee was diagnosed with a rare from of cancer called T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia this past December. This form of leukemia is aggressive and causes the bone marrow to release immature white blood cells, the the child’s treatment required 4 weeks of intense chemotherapy, and he now requires stem cell transplant within three months. According to the National Health Service this disease afflicts about 650 people a year in Britain.
The child’s primary school in Worcester, England was largely responsible for organizing the event. Sue Bladen, Pitmaston Primary School business manager, said that they had decided to do whatever they could to help find a donor for Oscar.
A crowdfunding page was set up by Oscar’s parents in February to help pay for medical costs, and has raised around $11,300 which has surpassed the amount of voluntary aid they had requested or could even dreamed to have received.
When stem cell transplant was insisted on being needed by doctors, Oscar’s parents and school decided to organize a donor event through DKMS in order to help facilitate finding a match for the young boy. For the donor every anyone between the ages of 17-55 was allowed to register as a potential donor.
For the donor event more than 200 volunteers showed up from around the country to offer their help. The first day of the event was live was on Saturday March 2, 2019 and over 1,800 people showed up to register as potential donors. Sunday had even more people as some 3,000 people showed up to register as possible donor, setting a record for the most people to volunteer as stem cell donors, by far exceeding their optimistic expectations.
Numbers continued to rise even after the event had ended, with another 1,000 people registering to be potential donors online bringing the total to approximately 6,000 people having registered.
According to the no-profit DKMS 4,855 people showed up at the school event to register breaking Britain’s record, and another 1,000 registered online with DKMS bringing the total to 5855 people registering as potential donors. DKMS is an international nonprofit organization focused on finding donors for blood cancer patients.
Ms. Bladen says, “The spirit we had here was absolutely incredible, and the generosity of people. There were people queued all around the back of the block in the pouring rain, and nobody moaned about it.”
The screening/matching process will take around 6 weeks to determine whether or not any of the potential volunteer donors are an eligible match for Oscar’s stem cell transplant. “It is difficult to find a suitable match as there are 17,000 HLA characteristics that have to be looked at,” explains Lisa Nugent, head of donor recruitment.
Here’s hoping a suitable match can be found for the young boy from the generous people who showed up to offer their help in a very uplifting display of kindness and compassion.
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