Tag Archives: stem cell therapy

Good News For a Change

In which The Author could be tempted to believe in miracles

If you’ve read this blog, chanced upon my Facebook, or encountered my Twitter feed at any point during the past week and a half, then you’ll already be aware of the Shake4Mike campaign.
Mike Brandon, a young man from Bristol, is suffering from leukaemia. In conjunction with the fantastic UK charity the Anthony Nolan Trust, Mike’s family, his fianceé Kate’s family, and his many friends across the country were trying to find a stem cell donor.
Kate’s aunt lives near my mother, so I was drafted in to help spread the word. I went into more detail in The Shake4Mike Appeal Needs Your Help! last week, to try and get the ball rolling. It’s a one in a thousand chance that someone will have compatible tissue, so we were facing an uphill struggle. I’ve spent much of the last ten days badgering people to take a shaky selfie and share it via social media, to try and encourage more volunteers to submit a saliva sample and join the stem cell donor register.
I’ve just had a phone call from Kate’s aunt with some incredible news: a donor has been found.
As regular readers know, I keep an open mind on the existence of a Generator of Organic Diversity – but in recent years I’ve had a number of experiences which have caused me to wonder about the deep structure of the Universe. In my opinion, this weekend’s news is little short of miraculous.
Mike isn’t out of the woods by a long way, mind you. He’s got to endure more chemotherapy before the doctors can begin his treatment in earnest, and then another bout of chemotherapy afterwards.
But this weekend’s news proves that the stem cell register has the potential make the difference between life and death. We all take giving blood for granted, and I daresay many of us carry organ donor cards. In scientific terms, they’re old school. Stem cell therapy could become the equivalent of these techniques for the Third Millennium.
I’d strongly urge you to try and keep the momentum going now. If you’re aged between sixteen and thirty, resident in the UK, and can sail through the online health questionnaire, then please register for a testing kit via the Anthony Nolan Trust website. All that’s required is a saliva sample. It couldn’t be any quicker, easier or pain-free than that!
In the meantime, the Shake4Mike campaign will continue, in order to raise awareness of the stem cell register. If you haven’t already taken a Shaky Selfie and shared it online, why not do it after you’ve read this? Like registering, it takes just a couple of minutes and could help to find the next donor for someone like Mike.
Finally, if you can spare some cash to fund the trust’s incredible work, you can donate at their website. Why not organise your own event to spread the word and help to pay for their continued work? Please don’t let this head of steam fizzle out now.
On behalf of Mike’s family and Kate’s family, thanks for reading this!

The Shake4Mike Appeal Needs Your Help!

In which The Author calls on your charitable spirit

I’m going to try and use Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and all the other social networks for a very deserving cause. Please take a minute to read this through to the very end…
A young British man named Mike Brandon is being treated for a rare form of leukaemia, and his doctors are trying to find a suitable stem cell donor. Time is of the essence here, as Mike’s doctors are hoping to carry out treatment at the end of July. His story has already been featured in local and national newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph.
Through the superb UK charity the Anthony Nolan Trust, Mike’s fiancée Kate Robertson has organised an online campaign to help in the search. Kate is related to my mother’s next-door neighbour, which is why I’m so keen to spread the word about this campaign.
I’ll outline it briefly for you:
Do you remember the no-make-up selfie craze that swept Facebook a couple of months ago? The viral campaign that raised millions for cancer research? Yes, that one! Well, this is on similar lines.
You’re invited to ‘shake your face’ in a selfie, post it online, and then nominate a friend to do the same. If you have a look at the Shake4Mike Facebook page, you’ll see lots of photos of people who’ve already taken part.
This afternoon, the campaign descended on White Hart Lane to try and recruit potential donors. A crew from BBC’s news programme Points West were waiting to interview them; Mike’s story has already appeared in the national papers, and I’m trying to get a bit more impetus behind the campaign.
The maximum age for potential donors is thirty, which means that I’m well and truly over the hill. However, if you’re aged between sixteen and thirty, please go to the Anthony Nolan Trust website and you can see more information about registering.
The test itself is painless – all that’s required is a saliva sample. If you can take a moment to spit into a plastic bottle, that’s all you need to do. The doctors will do the rest.
You can follow the campaign on Twitter at @shake4mike, you can search the hashtag #shake4mike, or you can support them on Facebook. Even if you’re outside the target group (like me), please share this information far and wide so that as many people see it as possible. Please tell your family, friends, college pals, workmates, whoever else you can think of… A suitable donor must be out there somewhere – we’ve just got to put the word out.
Even if you can’t help directly with the search for a donor, there’s a JustGiving page which will help to raise funds for this vital research. Why not have a look at it. Even a pound will go a long way. (If you’re a UK taxpayer, don’t forget to fill in the Gift Aid section, which enables the Anthony Nolan Trust to reclaim an extra 25% from HMRC.)
If you read this, I’d be eternally grateful if you could click some (or all) of the sharing buttons at the bottom of the page. The more widely we can spread this, the better the chance we have of finding a suitable donor. The clock is ticking, so please don’t delay.
The media love to slag off Facebook, Twitter and the whole social networking phenomenon. Let’s show them that we can harness it for positive reasons, and maybe help to save this young man’s life.
Thanks a lot for reading this.