Jason Branthwaite, from Bolton, with be taking part in seven different cycling events in just three months to raise money for Anthony Nolan, the charity that saved his son’s life.
Jason, along with other Anthony Nolan supporters including Olivia Colman, is sharing his story as part of the charity’s My Anthony Nolan Story campaign.
In September 2015, Jason and his wife Laura took their 15-month-old son Freddie to hospital when they noticed that he was pale and lethargic. Doctors at the Manchester Children's Hospital initially thought Freddie had leukaemia, but then three days later they were told that Freddie, who is now four years old, had a life-threatening illness called severe aplastic anaemia, a rare condition in which the body stops producing new blood cells.
Following Freddie’s diagnosis, Jason and Laura were told that he would need a stem cell transplant using stem cells from a matching donor if he was to be cured.
Anthony Nolan searched the worldwide stem cell register for a special stranger whose stem cells could replace and repair Freddie’s own damaged cells. A match was found, and Freddie received his life saving stem cell transplant on 26 November, 2015.
Jason said: “Your world stops when we hear that your little boy may not make it. It’s like being hit with a sledgehammer.
“Freddie is four years old now, and he’s doing really well. Some milestones kids have, he didn’t reach straight away as he was in isolation and recovering from his transplant, however he is now pretty much spot on. His teachers are really happy with how he is doing and so are we.”
Jason now wants to give back to Anthony Nolan, by completing seven cycling challenges in three months. This will start with the 100-mile Tour de Manc in May and will finish with 100-mile Ride London at the beginning of August. As part of the challenge Jason will also be cycling from London to Paris.
Jason said: ‘Anthony Nolan saved my son’s life and I was really looking for a way to give something back. In 2016 and 2017 I took part in Ride London, so this year I decided to do seven cycling challenges, as I thought I need to up my game so people continue to donate. I had a couple of ideas which then snowballed into the seven.’
‘I’ve started my training now, which includes making sure I go out and ride for a couple of hours each weekend.’
Following a transplant, in order to protect both the recipient and the donor, the identity of both parties must be kept confidential for two years. It’s been three years since Freddie’s transplant, and Jason and the rest of the family have now been in contact with Freddie’s donor and hope to meet him in the future.
Jason said: ‘We really wanted to thank Freddie’s donor as he is the person who saved his life. He lives in Germany and we have had a few conversations over Skype.’
‘We want to meet him, so we can say thanks to him properly. All you want to do is give that person the biggest bear hug ever, but we want Freddie to understand how important he is which is why we will wait a few years.’
Kirsty Mooney, Head of Events at Anthony Nolan said: ‘We can’t thank Jason enough for taking on this challenge and sharing his story, to help spread the word about Anthony Nolan.
‘Each day we facilitate three potentially lifesaving stem cell transplants, and without the support of our amazing fundraisers we wouldn’t be able to do this. The money Jason raises will help us give more people a second chance of life, just like Freddie.’
To view Jason’s My Anthony Nolan Story on the charity’s YouTube page visit: www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwC1UUsP1aw
To sponsor Jason visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jason-branthwaite3