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Mum’s fear as son’s shot at a normal life depends on a kind stranger

Mum's fear as son's shot at a normal life depends on a kind stranger

After Finn McEwen, 13, was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome in 2015, his family were told he would need a stem cell transplant.

A rare form of blood cancer where you don’t have enough healthy blood cells, myelodysplastic syndrome can affect people of any age but is most common in adults over 70, according to the NHS. Finn’s mum Carole said her ‘whole world was shaken’ after the diagnosis.

However, Finn’s case picked up traction, which saw him meet players from Everton FC. Fortunately, Finn had a transplant a few months later which was a success.

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Carole said: “When Finn’s myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) was diagnosed in 2015, and I was told he’d need a stem cell transplant, my whole world was shaken. It’s really hard to know your son’s only shot at a normal life depends on a kind stranger somewhere in the world having registered as a stem cell donor.”

Blood cancer charity DKMS is urging people in Liverpool to register as blood stem cell donors to help give someone a second chance at life. The coronavirus pandemic saw the number of people signing-up drop significantly.

Registrations in Liverpool has fallen by 54% compared with 2020. As a result, there is an urgent need for people to help meet the demand for donations and reverse the decline in registrations.

Liverpool follows a national trend, with just over a third (37%) of the number of people in the UK registering in the first three months of this year compared to last Spring.

Only 1 in 4 people with blood cancer (and in need of a transplant) will find a matching blood stem cell donor within their own family, which means that those in need of a blood stem cell transplant on the kindness of a stranger.

Liverpool pharmacology student Callum Suttle, 21, signed up to be on the stem cell register after seeing a social media post. Around a year after Callum signed up as a blood stem cell donor with DKMS, he found out he was a match for someone.

Callum said: “Signing up to the register can be one of those things that keeps slipping your mind, like giving blood, but it actually doesn’t take that long to do at all. I’d always wanted to sign up to be a donor and when I saw it on my Twitter feed it prompted me to look into it and order the registration kit. It was only a year after I had been signed up that DKMS emailed me to say I was someone’s match.

“It’s a great feeling knowing you can help someone in this way. It’s so sad to hear the pandemic has led to a decline in registrations as it’s really putting so many blood cancer patients’ lives on the line. We all have a duty to help where we can so it’s important to look into the process and register if you can.”

Carole added: “Registering is so simple and thanks to Covid we’re all used to doing swabs now – this one only involves swabbing your cheek. There are thousands of other families waiting for someone to save their loved one’s life. You never know if someone you love might receive a life changing diagnosis.”

Reshna Radiven, head of communications and engagement at DKMS UK, said: “We have witnessed a huge decrease in registrations since the pandemic took hold. With only one in four people finding a match within their family, thousands of blood cancer patients rely on the kindness of a stranger.

“We urgently need more people to come forward and register, because the more people we have on the blood stem cell register, the more chance there is of our patients finding that perfect match. By signing up, you could be giving someone a second chance at life”.

Taking the first steps to register as a potential blood stem cell donor can be done within a few minutes. If you are aged between 17-55 and in general good health you can sign up for a home swab kit online at dkms.org.uk.


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