Samantha Cameron has hosted a reception for cancer survivors and lifesavers, including Lucas Ruddy, four, and his stem cell donor, Christopher Carson, who met for the very first time on the day of the reception.
The Prime Minister’s wife hosted the event – which was held to mark the blood cancer charity’s 40th anniversary - at Number 10, Downing Street, yesterday evening.
She was joined by well-known faces including writer and comedian Dominic Holland, Hollywood actor Tom Holland and restaurateur Chris Corbin, who has had a bone marrow transplant.
Also present was Simon Bostic who, in 1973, became the first person in the world to receive a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor.
Mrs Cameron’s reception, which was also attended by other Anthony Nolan supporters, bone marrow donors, and transplant recipients, also celebrated the thousands of lives that have been saved over the last four decades.
Anthony Nolan was the world’s first bone marrow register. It was set up by dedicated mother Shirley Nolan who was desperately searching for a donor for her young son, Anthony.
Anthony died before a matching donor could be found, but the charity set up in his name has been saving lives for four decades by matching remarkable people willing to donate their bone marrow to patients in need of a transplant.
The reception allowed Anthony Nolan to showcase its successes during this anniversary year and to focus on the priorities for the next 40 years as well as those for the year ahead, which include building the register and, particularly, encouraging people from ethnic minorities to join.
Guests at the reception heard from Ben Ruddy whose son, Lucas, had a bone marrow transplant in April 2012 after being diagnosed with Wiscott-Aldrich Syndrome – the same condition that Anthony Nolan had.
Lucas and his family were accompanied to the reception by Christopher Carson – the young doctor who saved Lucas’ life by donating stem cells to him.
When the donation was made, the pair were complete strangers. They met for the first time shortly before the reception began.
Mr Ruddy was able to explain what Anthony Nolan means to patients and their families and to use his son’s story to emphasise the importance of adding more potential donors to the register.
He said: “We get emotional thinking about the fact that Shirley and Anthony Nolan were in the same situation as us 40 years ago and yet the consequences for them were devastating.
“If they hadn’t gone through that journey and left such an extraordinary legacy by creating the Anthony Nolan register, we would possibly have ended up in the same position as them.”
Henny Braund, Anthony Nolan Chief Executive, added: “Our vision at Anthony Nolan remains to fulfil Shirley’s dream that one day we will be able to find the best match for every person that needs one.
“On behalf of everyone at Anthony Nolan I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support, and invite you to continue on this life-saving journey with us. Here’s to the next forty years of saving lives and all that we can do together. Thank you.”