29 June 2011
Simon Bostic, the man who received the first unrelated blood stem cell (or bone marrow) transplant in 1973, will celebrate an important milestone this weekend when he turns 40 on 2nd July.
Simon was born with a rare blood disorder, and doctors told his mother that a stem cell transplant was his only chance of survival. Although his family were tested, no one was a match, so his mother enlisted the media’s help in tracking down a potential donor. Over 50,000 people were tested in just two months and, fortunately, one was a match.
The success of Simon’s transplant inspired Shirley Nolan to travel to London with her young son, Anthony, who also suffered from a life-threatening blood disorder. She set up the world’s first stem cell register in her son’s name, to match patients with people willing to donate their stem cells. Sadly, no match could be found for Anthony, and he died in 1979.
Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, says, “Everyone at Anthony Nolan wishes Simon an extremely happy 40th birthday. Anthony Nolan’s history as a charity began with Simon, as he inspired Shirley Nolan to start our register of donors, which every day we use to provide two people with the chance of life. Sadly, for every person we help, there’s another we can’t, so we’re also grateful to Simon for telling his story, and helping us to raise awareness of the challenges facing us today.”
There are currently over 400,000 donors on the Anthony Nolan register, but the charity can only find a match for 50% of the people who come to them in need of a potentially lifesaving transplant. To double the number of lives saved, the charity aims to grow the register to one million potential donors by 2014.