A bone marrow donor has been found for an eight-year-old girl who is in desperate need of a transplant. The news comes after celebrities including Gareth Bale, Russell Howard and Gethin Jones posted selfies with their pants on their head to encourage fans to #HelpHollie
We searched the register of donors and found a potentially life-saving match for Hollie Clark, from Cardiff. Hollie will now start chemotherapy in preparation for the transplant which will take place later this month.
Hollie, who has a rare bone marrow syndrome called Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), inspired a global social media appeal that saw celebrities and supporters posting selfies with their pants on their heads to urge people to join the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register. We revealed last month that the appeal led to a 2,580% increase in the number of people in Wales joining the register.
"Parents in a similar position - we'll be there for you"
Sharing the news on the Help Hollie Facebook page, Hollie’s mother, Laura, wrote: “Although we are full of happiness we still have a long way to go. We know there are many Mums and Dads looking out of a window right now, wondering if that special person will join a bone marrow register to save their child's life.
“It's not a position you ever want to be in. It is despair, fear and terror. Try and imagine looking for that one special person in the world who could save your child's life. It does not have to be like this, it could be different. The solution is to register as a bone marrow donor and tell your friends to do the same.”
Mrs Clark added: “In a short time Anthony Nolan have become part of us. They were there for us and we sure as hell will be there for them. We cannot and will not walk away from them.
We will get Hollie fixed and be back to help soon. We will be returning the favour. Parents in a similar position, keep positive and stay strong. We will be there for you, that's a promise.”
The #pantsonyourhead campaign
When Hollie’s parents, Laura and Stephen, learned their daughter would need a bone marrow transplant, they launched the #pantsonyourhead campaign to encourage people to join our register.
They urged people to share a picture of themselves with their pants on their head while pledging to join the register.
Their campaign inspired an incredible response and celebrities from the world’s most expensive footballer, Gareth Bale, to comedian Russell Howard shared their #pantsonyourhead selfies.
A 2,580% increase in Welsh register sign-ups
The campaign was so successful it led to a 2,580% increase in the number of people in Wales joining the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register, when compared to the same time period last year.
In Cardiff, there was a 2,600% increase in people joining the register, and, in the UK as a whole, the figure was 170%
How it all started
The idea for the #pantsonyourhead campaign began a few weeks ago when Hollie was in a hospital bed, after receiving her first treatment.
Mrs Clark explained: “Hollie was feeling really unwell after her first round of blood transfusions, and at this time, the only way some of our family could communicate with her was by using FaceTime.
“Her uncle, Matthew, put his underwear on his head to make her laugh while he was talking to her on FaceTime and it sparked an idea for a way we could raise awareness about Anthony Nolan in a way that’s fun and personal to Hollie.”
Join the register and help others in Hollie's situation
Karen Archer, Regional Register Development Manager at Anthony Nolan said: “We are absolutely delighted that a match has been found for Hollie and we wish her and all of her family the best of luck for the future. The ‘pants on your head selfie’ idea really took off and made a big difference in terms of the numbers joining the register. It’s our goal to find a match for everyone who needs a transplant so it’s wonderful that Hollie’s friends and family are carrying on the fight and urging even more people to come forward and support the work of Anthony Nolan.”
Despite having found a match for Hollie, her family are continuing to encourage people to join the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register to help other people in a similar situation.
They are urging people who are aged between 16 and 30 to sign up simply by filling in an online form and spitting into a tube.
It is particularly important to encourage young men to join the register as they are currently under represented.
How you can help
To sign up online, click here.
You can also donate money on the Help Hollie Just Giving page