Teenager's quest to beat leukaemia inspires school friends to donate stem cells to help people in need

Posted: March 16, 2015 at 9:47 am

A TEENAGER'S quest to find a bone marrow match and beat his leukaemia has inspired school friends to go on to save the lives of two perfect strangers.

Jack Coen and Joe Rowbottom, both 18, were at Bradford Grammar School when fellow pupil Alex Anstess, now 16, was first diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in 2012.

After hearing a talk in school about registering on the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow register, they - and others - signed up and both of them have gone on to successfully donate stem cells.

Jack, from Ilkley, who donated in October last year after being found to be a perfect match for a patient needing a bone marrow transplant, said: I just thought if you have the opportunity to save someones life then why not? If I was in that position, Id want someone to do it for me.

"On the day, I thought about the other person receiving my stem cells and hoped I could give them more Christmases with their family. If I never make another good decision for the rest of my life, I have at least made one good and worthwhile decision by donating."

And Joe, from Yeadon, who donated his stem cells last month, said: It was so easy to spit in a tube and sign up. It was weird to think a stranger was dependent on me and yet its such a small thing to do. It was actually surprising something so simple could save someones life. Knowing Alex spurred me on to donate because I knew what the person was going through. Its great to see Alex back at school and proves the donor register does work.

Although Alex, of Cullingworth, had gone into remission after his 2012 diagnosis, the cancer returned in July last year and doctors broke the news that his life depended on a bone marrow transplant. It was The Anthony Nolan Trust that found him a perfect match and he had the procedure in September last year, helping him on the road to recovery.

His mum, Sue, said: I cannot describe the feeling of seeing that little bag of stem cells come in for Alex. We waited a long time for that moment and Ill never forget the relief we felt. Were so thankful to the donor who literally saved his life. Its absolutely brilliant that Jack and Joe have gone on to donate and help another family like ours."

Bradford Grammar headteacher Kevin Riley said: The school motto is Hoc Age which we usually translate as Just do it. What a wonderful example Jack and Joe are of that determination to help others. Im proud of them and the other students who have responded to the appeal.

If you are aged 16-30 and in good health you too can sign up to the Anthony Nolan register at anthonynolan.org. To find out more about the Register & Be a Lifesaver programme, email registerandbe@AnthonyNolan.org or call 0207 284 8213.

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Teenager's quest to beat leukaemia inspires school friends to donate stem cells to help people in need

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