Comedian Al Murray has called on people to sign up to the UK's blood stem cell registrar, following his six-year-old nephew Finlay's leukemia diagnosis.
Al Murray, also known as the Pub Landlord, spoke about his nephew’s health on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
During his appearance, he explained how the youngster – who is fighting juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) – has to endure a full week of chemotherapy every three weeks at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital.
But the biggest challenge is that Finlay needs to find a stem cell donor by Christmas.
JMML occurs when too many blood cells are made and are abnormal. It’s so rare that only 12 children in the UK are diagnosed with it every year.
Al told presenter’s Ben Shephard and Ranvir Singh: “I can’t imagine what his mum and dad are going through. I’m this close to it and I still find it kind of incomprehensible.
‘This isn’t just about Finlay, either. Even if we don’t find a match for Finlay we might find a match for someone, a dozen people, a hundred people.
‘This illness, he says I’ve got a bug in my blood that we need to squash, that’s how he sees it. He’s only six and I hope people can help us squash the bug in his blood.”
He went on to urge viewers to sign up to donor register DKMS to help beat blood cancer.
DKMS is an international non-profit organisation with offices across the globe. They have more than 8 million potential donors registered within the DKMS family and have given more than 69,000 second chances of life to people diagnosed with blood cancer. But still more donors are needed.
In Finlay’s case a donor is being desperately sought after two donors, who were found to be a match, pulled out of the donation just a few weeks before the transplant was due to take place.
Al continued: ‘I know there’s someone out there, there’s definitely someone out there who’s a match but we need them to register.
‘I’m eligible and look at me; I’m 51 and I’m a schlub, I’m the opposite of someone who runs marathons and I’m eligible.
‘This couldn’t be easier to do and the change you could make, you could give someone another chance and help beat blood cancer.’
Sadly just two percent of the UK is registered as a blood stem cell donor – but it couldn’t be simpler to save a life.
Since Al’s plea aired on GMB it’s received lots of positive attention with many people saying they’ve been encouraged to sign up.
After sharing the clips above on Twitter, hundreds of people commented to share their support, with many adding that they’d ordered testing kits after watching his appearance.
This included @DrPamSpurr, who commented: ‘My lovely father passed 20 years ago of myelodysplastic syndrome ending in leukaemia. I wish
@DKMS_uk had been around then! Please support @almurray’s campaign to register yourself & if you can’t register please donate, it’s so easy to do. Wishing the best for your dear nephew!’
@field_mat added: ‘Just done my swabs and will pop them in the post in the morning.’
And @KatieRabbitt29 commented: ‘Signed up in two minutes from the comfort of my own bed! So easy :)’
Since the interview aired more than 30,000 people have registered, including 20,000 in one day – a record for DKMS in the UK.
How you register to become a blood stem cell donor:
- Anyone between the ages of 17 and 55 can check if they’re eligible online.
- If you are eligible DKMS will simply put a swab test in the post, you’ll simply swab your cheek and post that kit back to the offices in the pre-paid envelop supplied with your kit.
- With that sample doctors can analyse your tissue type and add your details to the register in an anonymised form and then you’re one step closer to saving a life.