THE last time the Rugby World Cup was held, fan Alex Hannard was looking for a donor for a lifesaving stem cell transplant.
This time around, the 13-year-old from Fareham is playing rugby himself and calling on young men to become stem cell donors.
Blood cancer charity The Anthony Nolan Trust urgently needs more young men to join the donor register. Sign up at anthonynolan.org/join.
Alex had a bone marrow transplant four years ago and hasn’t looked back.
He said: ‘For most of my life, I haven’t been able to take part in sport and I’ve found it really difficult to fit in with other kids at times because of my illness.
‘When I was five, I was one of only 300 people in the country to be diagnosed with a serious illness called CGD, which made me feel poorly all the time.
‘My blood cells couldn’t fight infections, so I couldn’t join in with things. People at school didn’t really understand, they just thought I had allergies.
‘I was stuck in the house most of the time and I played on a lot of computer games, when all I wanted was to be outside with my friends, playing sport and having fun!
‘My mum and dad love rugby, and when they introduced me to it my life changed.Last time the Rugby World Cup was held, we were looking for a donor with Anthony Nolan.
‘It’s amazing how much my life has changed since then. I’ve made a really good recovery and it’s cured my CGD.
‘Now I have my own rugby ball and I can play rugby.
‘Rugby is very special to me because the spirit of rugby, and the support of the amazing rugby community, helped me to believe that anything was possible, no matter what.’