Event organizers were shocked by the sight of more than 5,000 people waiting to check if they were eligible to be stem cell donors for a five-year-old cancer patient, Oscar Saxelby-Lee. In December, the child was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, called T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
It is an aggressive type of leukemia that causes the bone marrow to release immature white blood cells, and the treatment requires a stem cell transplant within three months time.
Oscar’s teaching assistant Laura Senter, 22, said his diagnosis shocked the entire class as his illness developed fast:
“I couldn’t believe it. I saw him before Christmas and he was his usual happy-go-lucky self. It’s a nightmare for this to happen. You can’t really do anything about it, it’s heart-breaking. We have gone into action mode to try and find a donor.”
His primary school in Worcester, England, organized the event, and Sue Bladen, the business manager said:
“We decided we would do whatever it takes to find a donor for Oscar.”
His teacher, Sarah Keating, said:
“I’ve been teaching for 20 years and I’ve never had a child go through something like this. You hear about children getting cancer and you think “that’s dreadful”, then you move on. In this case, we haven’t moved on, we will fight this.”
The crowdfunding page was started in February, and anyone aged 17 to 55 could register as a donor. The school and Oscar’s parents raised about $11,300, which was much more than they dreamed of.
The event was run by more than 200 volunteers and on the first day, more than 1,800 people showed up to register as potential donors. The next day, over 3,000 people showed up, setting a record for the most people to ever volunteer as stem cell donors.
Ms. Bladen said:
“People queued around the block, in the pouring rain, and nobody moaned about it. The spirit we had here was absolutely incredible, the generosity of people.”
After the event, a thousand more people registered to be potential donors online
Now, it will take about six weeks to determine whether or not any of the potential donors are an eligible match for stem cell transplant, as Lisa Nugent, the head of donor recruitment explains:
“It’s incredibly difficult to find someone who is a suitable match because there are 17,000 HLA characteristics that have to be looked at.”
Sunny Skyz reports:
“Oscar is currently in the care of doctors at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. He has already undergone 20 blood transfusions and four weeks of chemotherapy.
“Oscar is a fun, loving, energetic five-year-old boy who deserves to live to the full alongside the other troopers fighting such horrific diseases. Not only does he need to enjoy a normal life a child should live, he now needs someone else to save him,” his mother told The Telegraph.”
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