People back bid to get more bone marrow donors at Portsmouth event

Runners needed to help fund research

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THE family of a toddler waiting for a bone marrow transplant have paid tribute to kind-hearted donors for playing a vital role in helping to save lives.

The News and charity Anthony Nolan joined forces yesterday to encourage more people to sign up to become a bone marrow donor and make a huge difference.

We are really thankful to all of the people that have signed up to be potential donors.

Amy O’Shaughnessy

The drive was inspired by three-year-old George O’Shaughnessy who is currently waiting for a bone marrow donor after being diagnosed with leukaemia.

Hundreds of people took away leaflets on how to register and what it takes, while 25 signed up and provided an on-the-spot saliva sample.

Will Guest, from Anthony Nolan, said he was pleased with how much awareness was raised.

George’s parents, Amy and Craig, from Baffins, in Portsmouth, backed the event at 1000 Lakeside, in North Harbour, Cosham.

Amy said: ‘We’re eternally grateful for what The News has done.

‘We are also really thankful to all of the people that have signed up to be potential donors.’

During the three-hour session in the main atrium, people were keen to find out how they could become a donor.

And for some, the chance to sign up was a great opportunity.

Rebecca Lockswood, 25, read George’s story in The News and saw the recruitment appeal on Facebook.

She said: ‘It is something that I always wanted to do but never got round to it.

‘Having the stand at Lakeside helped a lot because I work here.

‘It didn’t take very long at all and was really simple.

‘It was nice to learn about what becoming a donor actually means.’ Lakeside employee David Wood agreed.

The 29-year-old said: ‘It was a fantastic idea to organise something here and knowing I could help someone like George was a big reason I signed up.

‘My colleagues took leaflets away and said they were keen to join too.’

As previously reported in The News, George was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia on November 27, 2014 aged 22 months.

He went through nine months of intensive chemotherapy and began maintenance chemotherapy everyday at home.

Unfortunately in October last year, he was admitted to Queen Alexandra Hospital with a temperature. A biopsy at Southampton General Hospital confirmed he had relapsed and his leukaemia had returned. It has also spread to his spinal fluid and right kidney.

His mum Amy added: ‘George is still at Southampton General Hospital waiting to start his third phase of chemotherapy.’

The family have been offered support from Anthony Nolan.

Will, the charity’ regional development manager for the south east who led yesterday’s event, said: ‘It is so important to raise awareness for people like George waiting on a transplant.

‘We were happy with how the event went and if one of the people who signed up are called up to become a donor then we have helped save a life.

‘There aren’t enough people on the register and even if you do sign up, the chances of being a match are really low so we need lots of people to join.’

People aged 16 to 30 can sign up to the Anthony Nolan register at anthonynolan.org. People aged 17 to 55 can register for DKMS at dkms.org.uk.

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