Three year old Charlie Craig, who is battling a rare form of cancer, is appealing to local people to help save his life by becoming a possible bone marrow donor.
Charlie has been bravely fighting Acute Myeloid Leukaemia since January 2013. The aggressive disease is especially rare in children and requires specialist treatment.
After completing an initial six month course of treatment at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Charlie was declared as being in remission. Unfortunately, earlier this year, routine blood tests indicated that the disease had returned. He now requires intensive chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.
Doctors have told Charlie’s parents that he should prepare for ‘the fight of his life’, but they note that members of the public can help make a difference.
To help Charlie and other children like him, the Craig family are appealing to members of the public, aged between 16 and 30, who are generally fit and healthy, to please come forward for immediate testing to identify if they could be a potential life-saving match.
Charlie’s mother, Cliodhna explained: “We’re appealing to the public to donate, not only for our son, but for the thousands of other children like him, who require a bone marrow transplant.
“I’m proud of Charlie for his efforts to help promote the recruitment drive; encouraging people throughout the wider community to donate bone marrow and blood, which is vitally important to save countless lives. The cure for cancer is in the public’s hands.”
For people who would like to be tested, the process couldn’t be easier. Members of the public can go on-line either to www.anthonynolan.org (those aged 16-30) or www.deletebloodcancer.org (those aged 16-55) to complete the application form.
If eligible, potential donors will receive a ‘spit kit’ in the post; the samples will tested and the candidates will appear on a national database within 8 - 10 weeks.
The transplant procedure is safe and simple. Donors spend two nights in hospital to facilitate the collection of blood marrow from their pelvis, under general anaesthetic, using a small needle and a syringe. There may be some stiffness and discomfort after the procedure is completed, but this sensation will pass within a week; allowing the donor to resume their daily routine. Charlie’s family are organising two ‘donation drive’ events taking place on March 22 in the Whitla Hall, Methodist College Belfast and Cookstown’s Holy Trinity High School and would urge all members of the public to come along and help out with the worthwhile fight.