Charity pledge as donors queue up to help bone marrow victim Ryan, 3
A BLOOD cancer charity “overwhelmed” by the UK’s biggest turnout at a bone marrow donor recruitment drive has pledged to “leave no stone unturned” in the fight to save East Kilbride toddler Ryan Ferguson and thousands others like him.
The Anthony Nolan charity revealed yesterday potential donors had travelled from as far afield as Dundee, Falkirk, Stirling and South Ayrshire to be among the 1074 people who attended the recruitment clinic in East Kilbride on Sunday.
Ryan’s parents, Paula and Stuart Ferguson, launched an appeal for donors in the hope their three-year-old son, who was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in August, can receive a life-saving bone marrow transplant.
Lindsay MacCallum, regional fundraising manager for Anthony Nolan in Scotland, said: “Ryan Ferguson has captured the hearts of everybody who has read his story. We hope that through Ryan’s appeal there will be a successful outcome for Ryan. Anthony Nolan will leave no stone unturned in trying to find Ryan and the thousands of people like him a donor.”
It is the second major donor clinic held at the town’s Holiday Inn hotel, after actor Dougray Scott backed a similar appeal in 2008 for Katie Currie, then aged five, who shortly afterwards was successfully matched with a donor by the charity.
Katie’s mum, Siobhan Currie, 37, was among the volunteer counsellors at the clinic on Sunday who processed the applications and saliva sampling.
Katie underwent two intensive rounds of chemotherapy to treat acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill. She spent a year in hospital before her transplant. Swimming, dancing, cycling and karate are among the activities she and sister Libby, seven, can now enjoy together.
Mrs Currie said: “She’s amazing. She’s very healthy now and at school and doing everything an eight-year-old should be doing. She could hardly walk at one point and she had to learn to walk again. Every day is a milestone now.”
Samples from the East Kilbride clinic will now be tested in London and any successful donors will need to give a blood sample to confirm the match and could go on to donate stem cells, taken from either bone marrow in the pelvis or from blood.
Bone marrow contains stem cells essential for blood production. It will be several weeks before they know if a match has been found.
The clinic was organised by Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service area commander Ally Boyle, 40, from Hamilton, who himself was diagnosed with blood disorder myelodysplasia in 2008, just after the birth of daughter Jessica. He has a 25% chance of this turning to leukaemia, leaving him also needing a marrow transplant.
More than 60 volunteers from the fire service pitched in to help arrange the recruitment clinic.
Mr Boyle, who was told he had a three-year life expectancy when he was diagnosed four years ago, said: “This is a powerful story that makes us all think about our own mortality and our own children. There’s something really positive about seeing what society can do when they put their mind to it. To see that in East Kilbride was unbelievably humbling.”
Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, which supports the Anthony Nolan charity, has raised £20,000 in the last two years for the charity.
Dr Brenda Gibson, consultant haematologist at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “We are delighted with number of people who came forward. The more people who are on the bone marrow register the more likely we are to find a match for Ryan or someone else awaiting a transplant.”
Anthony Nolan is the UK’s most successful bone marrow register. Around 1600 people in Britain are waiting to find a matching donor and a further 37,000 people worldwide.