Rotherham cancer-stricken teen finds potential stem cell donor after three months' wait

The wait is almost over for leukaemia-stricken Harrison Walch of Aston as he has found a potential stem cell donor that could give him a second chance of life.

By rahmah ghazali
Thursday, 25 July, 2019, 15:48
Harrison with his dad, Steve, mum, Nickie and sister, Daisy.

His mother, Nickie Walch said their transplant consultant, Anthony Nolan charity, have informed them on Friday that they have found a 90% match for her 14-year-old son.

Harrison was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia last April and his plight was highlighted last month as the family appealed for more people to register as stem cell donors.

Nickie said: "This means they have searched the worldwide bone marrow/stem cell register for a match for Harrison's tissue type and the details of a young male have popped up.

"That male has then been invited into a hospital to give a sample of his blood...which he has done. This has been analysed and shows that he is a good match for Harrison.

"Not the 100% match you would hope for but a good enough match to proceed with. The hospital will now tell the male that he's good a match and they would like him to save Harrison's life.

"And now we sit and wait for a complete stranger who has never met Harrison to say 'Yes."

Nickie said the identity of the man is kept anonymous by the charity body as part of its procedure, and can only be made known after two years of the transplant.

Harrison with his French Bulldog, Leo

"That is, if the donor wants to come forward and meet us. Otherwise, he will remain anonymous for as long as he wants to," she explained.

Before that, however, Harrison is allowed to send his potential donor a letter which will be posted by their consultant on their behalf.

"We don't know who this man is or where he lives. He could be anywhere in the world, but we are so relieved and it's a really emotional time for all of us.

"But then, we are also scared and hopeful that this stranger continues to say he will donate," she said.

In the meantime, Nickie said, the family will carry on raising awareness regarding the stem cell register as there are still many families in their position and there will be others in the future.

"Please keep signing up and sharing the importance of a simple cheek swab," she said.

The family is backing the work of the Anthony Nolan charity, which supports people with blood cancer who need a transplant.

Research has shown younger people are more likely to be chosen to donate cells. The charity needs more young men to sign up as they make up just 18 per cent of the register.

Visit www.anthonynolan.org for more details.