Wednesday 21 August 2019
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Family "humbled" by response to stem cell donor appeal

Family

Monday 11 March 2019

Family "humbled" by response to stem cell donor appeal


A total of 532 islanders registered as stem cell donors over the weekend in response to a second appeal for a 38-year-old father with a rare and aggressive form of blood cancer, exceeding the expectations of blood cancer charity DKMS who actually ran out of swab kits.

Islanders were answering calls to help local gardener, Tony Ferreira, who has Sézary Syndrome, a rare form of lymphoma, find a potential life-saving stem cell match.

Tony was diagnosed in October 2017 and since then, his wife Osvalda, has been championing the search for a potential lifesaver. 

Last summer, she teamed up with blood cancer charity, Anthony Nolan and appealed for islanders to register as stem cell donors223 islanders swabbed their cheeks but no suitable match was found for Tony. 

Osvalda therefore organised a a second donor registration event this time with the help of DKMS, a blood cancer charity which accepts registrations from donors aged 17 to 55, in the hope that a suitable donor could be found in the larger age bracket.

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Pictured: Tony and Osvalda met when they were 14.

270 people came forward to register on Saturday, the first of a two day event held at St. Thomas Church Welcome Centre. Over 140 people also came forward on Sunday, "so many more" than the organisers expected that the charity DKMS ran out of swab kits. A further 120 people were registered online, bringing the total of registrations to 532 over the whole weekend.

Since Osvalda's first appeal, almost 800 local residents have joined the register of stem cell donors.

All of the people who registered this weekend will join an international register of potential stem cell donors. DKMS said the record number of local registrations means "a real contribution by Jersey to the international database of potential lifesaving donors."

Osvalda said:  “We could never have imagined so much support for Tony. As well as the overwhelming generosity of the community who came along to register, we want to thank DKMS and the team of friends, family and volunteer helpers who all gave us their time and energy to make this event such a success.

"The local media have also been a tremendous support in getting the message out to everyone for us.”

“We are humbled by the care and kindness shown to us," she added. "And we hope and pray that a match will be found for Tony, and for others, through the generosity of people in Jersey. Thank you.”

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