A matching donor has been found for 29 year old Mike Brandon from Bristol and he is set to have a bone marrow transplant in June. Mike’s fiancé Kate Robertson, along with friends and family of the couple, has been working with us to appeal for more stem cell donors to step forward and join the register, launching a viral social media appeal #Shake4mike which has been backed by thousands of friends, strangers and celebrities.
Mike was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in March this year, while his fiancé Kate was backpacking thousands of miles away in Burma. She immediately rushed back to Bristol to be by his side, and a few weeks later doctors told the recently engaged Mike and Kate that he would need a bone marrow transplant by the end of June, giving them around sixty days to find a donor.
Kate, 31, said: ‘It’s been an incredibly difficult time so the relief we’re feeling is overwhelming; a matching donor means that we can go ahead with Mike’s bone marrow transplant. We know we have a rocky road ahead as a transplant is a serious procedure, but knowing there is a good match for Mike is a fantastic boost that we desperately needed.
We are hugely grateful to the selfless person who has stepped forward to help Mike, and to everyone who has pledged to do the same for someone else, by joining the Anthony Nolan register.’
Kate launched an appeal for more donors in early May, asking people to post ‘shaky-face selfies’ as a sign they’ve joined our bone marrow register, before nominating others to do the same.
In the week following the launch of the appeal, we saw a 650% increase in people applying to join their life-saving register online. And we revealed that over 7,000 people applied to the register online between 4 and 12 May, compared to 939 people joining the register in the same period in 2013.
The couple’s hometown of Bristol saw a particularly huge surge in potential donors. In the same week, Anthony Nolan’s website saw 4,120 visitors from Bristol (compared to 165 last year) - an increase of nearly 2,400%.
Commenting on the success of the campaign, Kate said: ‘The response has been absolutely astounding. Knowing that there is so much support out there and to be able to visibly seeing the results of what we are trying to achieve has lifted everyone's spirits.
Both Mike and I have loved reading through the posts and messages that have been coming through. Some of the shaky faces really made us laugh out loud which was wonderful.’
Kate and friends of the couple have now vowed to keep their appeal going and carry on promoting the lifesaving work of Anthony Nolan.
Kate added: ‘The campaign was never just about finding a donor for Mike. Even at the outset we wanted to help make sure that there will be matching donors for other people going through the same agonising wait – other people’s brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, mums and dads, and lifelong partners.
We have been very lucky in finding a match but I know that not everyone is as fortunate. We still hope everyone will keep shaking their faces at cancer and continue to spread the #Shake4mike campaign to help others in Mike's situation.’
Ann O’Leary, our Head of Register Development said: ‘We are absolutely delighted that a matching donor has been found for Mike. His story inspired thousands of people to sign up as donors, any one of whom could go onto save the life of someone like Mike in years to come.
It’s our goal to find a match for everyone who needs a transplant so it’s wonderful that Mike’s friends and family are carrying on the fight against blood cancer and urging even more people to come forward and support the work of Anthony Nolan.’
If you’re 16 – 30 and in good health you can join the register here: