The parents of a young Sheffield man who died of leukaemia aged just 27 say they are ‘very proud’ of his lifesaving legacy.
Five years ago this week, Adrian Sudbury, of High Green, lost the battle against his illness after spending his final days campaigning for young people to be educated about bone marrow, blood and organ donation.
Now Adrian’s mum and dad, Keith and Kay Sudbury, say the programme he helped to set up has inspired thousands of young people to take up the chance of being lifesavers.
Register and be a Lifesaver, run by blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, has reached more than 96,000 teenagers, aged 16 to 18, through talks at schools and colleges since it launched – with more than 4,300 signing up as potential bone marrow donors.
Meanwhile, more than 5,400 have registered to give blood and 1,400 have joined the organ donor register.
Keith, aged 63, said: “Both Kay and I are absolutely delighted with what’s been achieved. If Adrian is looking down on us – as I’m sure he is – he would be very proud as well.
“Adrian’s wish was beautiful in its simplicity. All he wanted was to educate every 16-to-18 year old about donation. They are then in a position to make informed decisions.
“Already lives have been saved. It has been wonderful to see the maturity of our young adults and how willing they have been to become involved in donation.”
Adrian, who worked as a journalist for the Huddersfield Examiner newspaper, first became unwell in 2006.
He was diagnosed with two distinct conditions - acute myeloid leukaemia and chronic myeloid leukaemia - and was given a bone marrow transplant which proved unsuccessful.
He documented his experiences on a blog and collected thousands of signatures in an online petition, calling on schools and colleges to raise awareness of donation.
Adrian even took his campaign - Sign Up For Sudders - to 10 Downing Street, attracting praise from then Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
A packed memorial service was held at Sheffield Cathedral following Adrian’s death on August 20, 2008.
Keith, who lives in Pinxton, Nottinghamshire, with Kay, 55, said that his son ‘wanted to do a lot of myth-busting’.
Keith said: “Adrian himself never went on the bone marrow register. He believed the myths about how painful donating is, but that’s not the case. People are staggered by how simple it is.
“We’ve had three students come forward as perfect matches, which has saved three lives.”
Katie Day, from Anthony Nolan, said Adrian was an ‘inspirational young man.’
“We want to continue to expand and hope that in the future, with support from the government and education sector, this will be a national education programme,” she added.