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Father of selfless bone marrow donor now in urgent hunt for his own lifesavers

A father whose generous daughter donated stem cells to help save the life of a stranger is now looking for a stem cell donor himself.

Just weeks after Verity Maylam, 27, donated stem cells to a child in desperate need of a transplant, Martin Maylam, 59, learned that he was also in need of a bone marrow transplant (also known as a stem cell transplant).


Martin with L-R: Carina, Zinnia, Verity, Hettie

This is a very unusual situation as only 1 in 1,200 people who are on the donor register actually go on to donate as it’s so rare to be a match, for the 2,000 people in the UK who need a bone marrow transplant from a stranger each year.

'Now that our family is looking for a match, it puts it into perspective'

Now, Martin’s daughters, Verity, Hettie and Zinnia, and his wife, Carina, are appealing for more potential lifesavers to join the Anthony Nolan register in the hope of finding a match for Martin.

Verity said: “Signing up for Anthony Nolan is so easy - you just need to send off a spit sample! When I came up as a match I was so glad to be able to help. It takes just a few hours to potentially save a life. The process of giving stem cells is so easy and painless - I would encourage everyone to sign up!”

Hettie, a 31-year-old journalist, added: “I want people to realise how easy it is to donate bone marrow or stem cells now. It is important that people know that it’s not this awful thing – it isn’t hard. It is an amazing way to help someone.

“Now that our family is looking for a match, it puts into perspective the amazing thing that Verity has done. It really makes you think about it. We are in the very unusual position of knowing what it is like from both the donor and the patient’s perspectives. Zinnia and I have both sent off our spit samples and are hoping we will be called up too.”


Martin with L-R: Carina, Verity, Hettie, Zinnia

Martin's diagnosis

Martin, a farm manager from Petersfield, Hampshire, first became unwell in April 2012.

“I thought he had the flu,” said Carina, “I told him to go to bed but in the morning he was very hot and disorientated, he went to stand up but collapsed.


Martin and Carina

“I called an ambulance but the paramedics’ initial tests were normal, so I had to insist that they took Martin to hospital as I realised something was very wrong.”

When he arrived at hospital further tests revealed that he was suffering from AML (acute myeloid leukaemia).

After months of chemotherapy, Martin was lucky enough to go into remission and was able to return to work on an equestrian farm just outside Guildford.

Verity's donation

While Martin was undergoing treatment, Verity joined the Anthony Nolan register and three years later the blood cancer charity contacted her to say that she was a match for a young child in need of a transplant.


Verity donating stem cells

Verity kindly agreed to donate and the procedure went ahead in the spring of 2015.

Verity said: “It wasn’t painful and I was so pleased to know I might have helped someone.”

However, just a few weeks later, routine blood tests showed that Martin’s leukaemia had returned and he was told that he would need a bone marrow transplant to survive.

Zinnia, who is in the process of starting her own baking business, said: “It was a massive shock when he relapsed, we thought he was ok and had beaten it - he was heartbroken.”

'The waiting is so hard for all of us'

Martin has now had more chemotherapy and is once again in remission but he urgently needs a bone marrow transplant at Southampton General Hospital to prevent the cancer returning.

He needs the treatment as soon as possible while he remains in remission. As a result, Anthony Nolan is currently searching the national and international donor registers to look for a match.

“Dads is a practical man and he just wants to get on with it,” Zinnia went on. “The waiting is so hard for all of us, especially as we do not know what the outcome will be.”

While the search continues, his wife and daughters are appealing for more people to join the Anthony Nolan register having been inspired by the Give Our Dad A Bone (Marrow Transplant) campaign run by the Ireland sisters.

How you can help

To sign up, to Anthony Nolan potential donors need to be between the ages of 16 and 30 and in good health.

Contrary to what people believe, in 90 per cent of cases donors donate through a simple outpatient procedure which is similar to giving blood.

If you're aged between 16–30 and in good general health you can join the register by clicking on the button below:

It costs £100 to add each person to the bone marrow register - to donate money to Anthony Nolan click on the button below:

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