Thousands stand in rain for hours to donate stem cells to five-year-old boy suffering from rare cancer
A whopping 4,855 donors lined up to get tested at Pitmaston Primary School in the United Kingdom to see if they could donate stem cells to help five-year-old Oscar Saxelby-Lee
In a record-breaking bid to save the life of a five-year-old boy with a rare form of cancer, thousands of people lined up in the rain for hours to take a test to see if they could become stem cell donors in order to help with his treatment.
A staggering 4,855 people were inspired to partake in a testing drive over the weekend to see if they were a match for little Oscar Saxelby-Lee, from Worcester, Daily Mail reports.
According to doctors, the schoolgoing child has only three months to find the right donor to take blood cells from so that they can treat Oscar's T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). While he has already undergone chemotherapy since his diagnosis in December, he now requires more aggressive treatment to beat the disease. Oscar's T-ALL diagnosis came after his parents raised concerns over unexplained bruising on his body.
Now, the youngster is in a race against time to find someone who can donate blood stem cells. However, if a donor isn't found in three months, Oscar's chances of survival will "severely diminish," doctors say.
Pitmaston Primary School in the United Kingdom conducted a donor search over the weekend and saw over 4,800 donors line up to get tested. “I’ve been teaching for 20 years and I’ve never had a child go through something like this," Oscar's teacher Sarah Keating said. "You hear about children getting cancer and you think, ‘That’s dreadful,’ then you move on. In this case, we haven’t moved on, we will fight this.”
Meanwhile, 22-year-old Laura Senter, Oscar's teaching assistant, said his diagnosis was a major shock to their class. “I couldn’t believe it. I saw him before Christmas and he was his usual happy-go-lucky self. It’s a nightmare for this to happen," she said. "You can’t really do anything about it, it’s heart-breaking. If a child falls over and cuts their knee, you can put a plaster on it. With something like this, you can’t just fix it."
"That’s why we have gone into ‘action mode’ to try and find a donor," she continued. "I visited Oscar in hospital last month when it was his birthday. All the parents bought gifts for him. Because of all the chemo, he was very swollen, but you could tell he was very much still him inside. When we came out, we knew we needed to do everything we could to support him.”
According to DKMS, the charity that tested the swabs, the previous record for the highest number of participants at a registration event is 2,200 people. Over the weekend, DKMS volunteers occupied tables and chairs in two halls at the school to hand out swabs and complete donor registration forms.
After the T-ALL diagnosis on December 28 last year, Oscar was also found to have an aggressive form of leukemia. Immediately after the discovery, desperate parents Olivia Saxelby and Jamie Lee launched an appeal to find a donor for their embattled son. The campaign called “Hand in Hand for Oscar" urges as many people as possible to participate in the blood stem cell donor registry to help his chances of survival.
His mother Olivia, 23, said: “We felt like we could not see light at the end of the tunnel, but when looking at Oscar’s cheeky smile, bravery, and determination, we managed to pull our strength together again. From that moment of fear and confusion, we as a family became stronger than ever. Oscar reminded us how to fight again and just how courageous he is. Not once has he shown weakness, nor has he ceased to amaze us throughout the most difficult times, and that to us is a true warrior.”
“Oscar is a fun, loving, energetic five-year-old boy who deserves to live to the full alongside the other troopers fighting such horrific diseases," she added. "Not only does he need to enjoy a normal life a child should live, he now needs someone else to save him.”