Donor urges others to join lifeline register

Evie Campbell, right, and her younger sister Erin at home in Shilbottle.'Picture by Jane Coltman
Evie Campbell, right, and her younger sister Erin at home in Shilbottle.'Picture by Jane Coltman

Inspired by little Evie’s story, a north Northumberland man, who has been a donor, is encouraging people to sign up for the bone marrow register.

Last week, the Gazette reported once again on Evie Campbell, from Shilbottle, who was diagnosed with Diamond-Blackfan anaemia (DBA) at the age of eight weeks.

David Clayton, during his bone-marrow donation in 2013.

David Clayton, during his bone-marrow donation in 2013.

The condition, caused by a failure in the bone marrow and characterised by an inability to produce red blood cells, affects only around 125 people in the UK. It requires intensive therapy and has no known cure.

The five-year-old, a pupil at Swansfield Park Primary School in Alnwick, has already undergone 21 blood transfusions, but after a failed steroids treatment, she now needs to have a bone-marrow transplant in the next two years.

And our story sparked David Clayton into contacting us, offering to help Evie’s parents, Rebecca and Richie, in whichever way possible, to encourage people to join the register.

In 2013, as previously reported by the Gazette, David donated his bone marrow to help save the life of a blood cancer patient.

The then 36-year-old had signed up to the register more than 10 years before, but thought little of it. He had come up as a potential match a couple of times, but never went on to donate bone marrow.

“I didn’t want to get my hopes up the last time, so when I found out I was the best match in the world for the patient, I was over the moon,” he said at the time.

David received a short course of injections to encourage his body to release the stem cells needed for the procedure.

The donation took around five-and-a-half hours and he donated via a process called peripheral blood stem cell collection, which David described as being a bit like giving blood. He felt tired the next day, but was soon back on track.

David added: “It just felt surreal that I’d potentially saved someone’s life by doing something so simple. One day out of your life could give someone else the rest of theirs and there’s no reason young, healthy people shouldn’t join the register if they are able to.”

And the timely reminder comes ahead of next weekend’s donor registration event for charity Anthony Nolan, whose register is currently being searched for a match for Evie.

It takes place at the youngster’s school, Swansfield Park in Alnwick, on Saturday, December 3, from 11am to 3pm.

Those signing up must be aged between 16 and 30, although you will stay on the register until the age of 60, and in good health.

The current recruitment focus is on young men, because they currently account for more than half of all donations each year, but only make up 13 per cent of the register.

All it requires of a potential donor is to read through the information pack, fill out the medical application form, have it checked by an Anthony Nolan representative and then give a small saliva sample.

And David pointed out that while the upper age limit for the Anthony Nolan register is 30, you can join the NHS register up to the age of 40 by asking when you go to donate blood.

“It really is such a simple procedure for the donor and more people realising that might make more join,” he said.

For more information, go online to www.anthonynolan.org/8-ways-you-could-save-life/donate-your-stem-cells or www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Bone-marrow-donation/Pages/Intro
duction.aspx