The Solomon family from Manchester, who launched a bone marrow donor appeal for their son Martin, are ‘over the moon’ after hearing that three people in recent months have donated their stem cells, as a result of their Match4Martin appeal. The family are now aware of at least 11 donors who have gone on to donate thanks to the campaign.
This is an amazing feat, as on average only one in 1,200 people who join the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register will come up as a match and go on to donate their stem cells.
Stevie Farndon, 26, from Nuneaton, signed up after a chance encounter with Martin’s mum Paula when out shopping in Manchester for the day with her cousin.
Stevie says, “I remember the lady (Paula Solomon) was saying she needed to find a match for her son and it felt so personal. She was out there on a Saturday in the freezing cold and I didn’t hesitate.
“I didn’t know anything at all about Anthony Nolan before that. If it wasn’t for me shopping on that day and the Match4Martin team being there, I wouldn’t have signed up because I didn’t know it existed.”
Stevie went on to donate on December 23rd 2014 – giving the gift of life to a stranger for Christmas.
Martin Solomon was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for a second time in 2012 and was told he desperately needed a lifesaving bone marrow transplant. Because Martin is mixed race a perfect match could not be found for him on the Anthony Nolan register. Currently, only 60% of transplant recipients receive the best possible match, and this drops dramatically to 20.5% if you’re from a black, Asian or ethnic minority background.
Thankfully Martin, now 22, went on a drug trial of the Brentuximab Vedotin drug and he is now in remission from the cancer. He has also recently graduated from Newcastle University after studying biochemistry and is hoping to become a doctor in the future
Selfless locals Alan Dolan and Andy Chrimes both signed up after hearing Martin’s sister Zea speak about Martin’s struggle to find a match, and both young men recently went on to donate.
Andy, 24, from Altrincham, says, “I went to school with Martin’s sister Zea. I saw she posted stuff on Facebook about Martin and soon as I saw it I signed up. I didn’t even really think about it, I just knew they needed help.”
“When it came to donating my stem cells, I wasn’t nervous at all, I was just keen to get on with it! Thanks to Match4Martin I know how much it means. It’s just like giving blood for extra amount of time. It’s not painful at all!”
“I sent a message to Zea when I was in hospital donating, I felt proud and I knew she would be chuffed. I feel grateful I had the opportunity to help someone and I’m so happy it all ended well for Martin.”
Alan, 25, from Sale, says, “It felt great to be able to donate. The effort the Solomons have put in over the past few years deserves the highest recognition as they’ve changed so many people’s lives for the better.”
Not many people can say that they’ve saved someone’s life but thanks to the Solomons, I’m one of the lucky few who can.”
Paula Solomon says, “Hearing these donor stories makes me very emotional. I could never have imagined how many people we could help and so quickly. I truly believe that everyone is a match for someone. The Anthony Nolan register searches and brings people together when we need someone most.
“The gift of life is something we should never take for granted and should be proud to give. It's the best achievement an individual can have in their own life time. Why would you not join the register?”
Ann O’Leary, Head of Register Development, said: “What the Solomons have achieved through the Match4Martin appeal is truly amazing. They have tirelessly campaigned and signed up so many lifesavers like Stevie, Alan and Andy, while they were going through so much themselves.”
“What their campaign shows us is that one person’s appeal for a donor could find a match for anyone. The family have given hope to so many patients and their families.”
The Solomon family are now supporting Anthony Nolan and African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust’s ‘Being African-Caribbean’ campaign to recruit more African-Caribbean donors to the register.
Martin Solomon Snr, who is of African-Caribbean heritage says, “This campaign is very close to our hearts. We could not find a match for our son because of the lack of black and mixed race donors. We urge everyone aged 16-30 to go to the Anthony Nolan website and sign up today so we can end this inequality”