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Family of young boy appeal for public to join the stem cell donor register

A young boy with aplastic anaemia is in urgent need of a stem cell donor, to give him a second chance of life. Olcán Wilkes’, seven, was diagnosed with the one in a million blood disorder in September 2021, after his family noticed severe bruising on his body. His parents are now calling for more people to sign up to become stem cell donors with blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, as doctors have said a stem cell transplant is Olcán’s only hope for a cure.

Due to the severity of his condition, doctors can’t be certain on how long Olcán can live without a transplant, as any potential illness could be fatal. Since diagnosed, he has had to undertake 25 platelet transfusions and five blood transfusions.

Olcán’s parents Sam, a farmer and former retained firefighter, and Genevieve Wilkes, a senior project manager in the healthcare sector, are appealing to the public in their desperate hope to help Olcán and others like him. 

Sam said ‘After Olcán’s diagnosis, it took a while for the severity of it all to sink in. We are desperate to encourage as many people as possible to take the two minutes it takes to register for the free swab, for Olcán and others like him. Those two minutes, and the time spent returning the swab, could quite literally save his young life.

‘He’s just the most wonderful boy, who misses football, his friends and play fighting with his brother - and our abiding hope is that we can find a donor.’

Anthony Nolan recruits people aged 16-30 to the stem cell register as research has shown younger people are more likely to be chosen to donate.

It costs £40 to recruit each potential donor to the register, so Anthony Nolan relies on financial support to keep growing its register.

Rebecca Pritchard, Director of Register Development at Anthony Nolan has said ‘We are doing everything we can to support Olcán and his family during this difficult time.

‘Every single person who signs up to the register has the potential to give hope to someone, like Olcán, who is in desperate need of a lifesaving stem cell transplant.

‘We’re particularly calling on young men aged 16-30, to join the register. Young men provide more than 50% of all stem cell donations but make up just 18% of our register. Together, we can work towards a future where nobody is waiting for their match.’

To find about more about joining the Anthony Nolan register, or to find out more about the different ways you can support, please visit www.anthonynolan.org/join  

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