THE family of a little boy battling leukaemia are urging people to become donors to help save their son – and the lives of others.
George O’Shaughnessy, three, is waiting for a bone marrow transplant after his cancer returned 19 months after he was placed in remission.
His parents Amy and Craig, from Baffins in Portsmouth, are encouraging people to register as donors.
The hope is that a bone marrow match can be found. Then, using a straightforward medical procedure, bone marrow cells from the donor can replace George’s diseased bone marrow – spongy tissue found in the hollow centres of some bones – and potentially cure him of leukaemia.
Even if a donor is not a match, giving blood can help with transfusions to stop bleeding.
Amy, 31, said: ‘George received his 26th blood transfusion this week and will require many more to get him through the transplant. We’re trying to get people to regularly donate blood or platelets as he would not get through the treatment without a lot of transfusions.
‘They’re both simple things but they save many lives.’
George’s younger sister Isabella, two, is not a match for George for giving bone marrow so his family are searching for a new donor through the stem cell and bone marrow donor registers.
They hope that will allow him to have an operation in the new year.
Amy, an operating department practitioner at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, added: ‘We are trying to encourage as many people as possible to sign up to be a life-saving donor.
We are trying to encourage as many people as possible to sign up to be a life-saving donor.Amy O’Shaughnessy
‘People can sign up with Anthony Nolan who register those between 16 and 30 years old or Delete Blood Cancer which is for 17 to 55-year-olds.’
George, who goes to Baffins Nature Nursery, was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia on November 27, 2014 aged 22 months.
He went through nine months of intensive chemotherapy and began the maintenance chemotherapy every day at home.
Unfortunately, in October he was admitted to QA Hospital with a temperature. Doctors found worrying signs and George was transferred back to Piam Brown Ward at Southampton General Hospital for a bone marrow biopsy.
It confirmed he had relapsed and the leukaemia had returned. It had also spread to his spinal fluid and right kidney.
Amy said: ‘George has begun high-dose chemotherapy and will require continued chemotherapy, total body radiotherapy and a bone marrow transplant at Bristol Children’s Hospital in the new year.’
The family are posting regular updates on George’s condition on Facebook. Search for Gorgeous George and leukaemia.
HOW TO BECOME A DONOR
If you are aged between 16 and 30, log on to anthonynolan.org to join the donor register or call 0303 303 0303.
If you are between the ages of 17 and 55, you can donate through Delete Blood Cancer. Visit dkms.org.uk/en or call 020 8747 5620.
Nine out of 10 people donate their stem cells in a quick and easy process similar to giving blood, called peripheral blood stem cell collection. One in 10 donors will have their stem cells collected via the bone marrow itself, while under general anaesthetic.
Neither procedure is painful. Read more at anthonynolan.org/8-ways-you-could-save-life/donate-your-stem-cells
To give blood, visit blood.co.uk