Made in Chelsea star makes health history

December 17, 2013
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Made in Chelsea star Stevie Johnson has made health history this Christmas, by becoming the half a millionth person to join the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register.

If Stevie is found to be a match, he could one day be called upon to donate his bone marrow, or blood stem cells, to a stranger with blood cancer in need of a life-saving transplant.

Stevie, who tweeted a selfie with his Anthony Nolan donor card this morning, was inspired to sign up after reading about Victoria Rathmill, the youngest ever person to donate her bone marrow to a stranger, at just 17 years old.

He explained: “I saw on Twitter last month that a teenage girl had potentially saved the life of a total stranger by donating her bone marrow. It wasn’t something that was on my radar at all before then, but I thought that was pretty remarkable that a teenager had the selflessness to do something like that.  

“When I heard how much Anthony Nolan needs young men to join the register, I didn’t hesitate to sign up. I was shocked that only one in four people who sign up online are men, especially as it’s so simple to do.”

Kind-hearted Stevie, 24, celebrated becoming the charity’s 500,000th donor by treating leukaemia survivor Rebecca Earley to an afternoon at the King’s Road restaurant Bluebird Chelsea, where they enjoyed festive treats while talking about the important work of Anthony Nolan.

Read the story on the Evening Standard website.

The 23 year old Made in Chelsea fan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia two years ago, and says she owes her life to her anonymous bone marrow donor.

Rebecca, from Uxbridge, said: “I had been feeling under the weather for a long time, but I thought I was just doing too much with university, working part time and still fitting in a social life like any normal 21 year old.”

After months of symptoms, Rebecca was eventually diagnosed at A&E, and after an unsuccessful round of chemotherapy, she was told a bone marrow transplant was her best chance of beating the condition. “Doctors tested my brother to see if he was a match but he wasn't and that's when they used the Anthony Nolan register to find an unrelated donor,” recalled Rebecca.

The Roehampton University student told Stevie: “I cannot put into words how thankful I am for my donor and will be forever grateful to him, and to Anthony Nolan. Without him I would not be here today.”

As a young and healthy male, Stevie is an ideal donor and is urging his cast-mates and Twitter followers to follow his example and sign up during the season of goodwill.

The old Etonian said: “It’s crazy to think of half a million people out there, all willing to save the life of a stranger. But Anthony Nolan can only find a match for half the people who desperately need a transplant, so they still need more people to sign up, especially guys around the same age as me. It’s something we can all be doing – any one of us could be the cure for blood cancer.”

Stevie added: “More than anything I really hope I can make others see how easy it is to save the life of someone facing leukaemia. If you’re a match, you could be someone’s best chance of survival. That’s pretty incredible!”

The Anthony Nolan bone marrow register was started nearly forty years ago by mum Shirley Nolan, who desperately hoped to find a match for her son Anthony. Since then, 500,000 remarkable people have pledged to donate their bone marrow (or blood stem cells) to cure blood cancer.

Incredibly, 150,000 of these have signed up only in the last five years.
Ann O’Leary, Head of Register Development at Anthony Nolan, said: “Anyone can be an anonymous hero – from celebrities like Stevie, to normal teenagers like Victoria, who recently became our youngest ever donor. We hope that Stevie will inspire even more young people to join our team of half a million heroes and be the cure for blood cancer, either by joining the register or raising vital funds.”

People aged 16 to 30 in good health can join the bone marrow register. There are also many other ways to save a life by supporting Anthony Nolan, such as raising funds or volunteering.