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Football talents sign up as stem cell donors

Football talents sign up as stem cell donors

Sunday 31 March 2019

Football talents sign up as stem cell donors

Eleven of the island's top football talents have answered calls from a young sportsman, who was cured of a life-threatening condition through a stem cell donation, to sign up to the donor register.

Last month, St. Clement FC player, Ben Hick (24), who received his life-changing donation six years ago, launched a push for local footballers to register as donors to help "save someone's life".

Charity Anthony Nolan, which uses its register to find and match blood disorder patients with donors, has since been working to push the message. Part of those efforts involved a presentation last week to the Jersey FA squad, who won 2-0 in Alderney last weekend to get their place in the Muratti final.

Charity representatives explained that a transplant of stem cells can cure blood cancer, but that only 30% of patients needing a transplant will find they have a match within their own family. Whenever a patient needs a life-saving stem cell transplant, the register of donors is searched to find someone who is a genetic match for that patient.

After the presentation, 11 of the players swabbed their cheeks to be added to the charity's register. If one of them is found to be a suitable donor, they could help save the life of patients with blood cancer and blood disorders.

The need for stem cell donors was highlighted in the island last year when Osvalda Ferreira made an urgent plea to islanders to register as stem cell donors because no DNA match could be found for her husband, Tony, who has Sézary Syndrome, a rare and aggressive form of blood cancer.


Pictured: Local footballer Ben Hick received a stem-cell transplant six years ago.

Ben Hick spoke to Express last month after the 'Be a match, Save a life' campaign, which encourages local players to join the register, was launched.

Ben was diagnosed with chronic granulomatous disorder, a rare genetic condition that severely weakens the immune system, when he was one and received a life-saving stem cell donation at the age of 18.

“It’s an opportunity to save someone’s life,” he said. “The effect my donor had on me, it’s just amazing.”

Ben Hick Antony Nolan

Pictured: The Jersey Friends of Antony Nolan have partnered with the Jersey Football Combination (JFC) to encourage local footballers to join the register.

Kate Baigent, who is part of the Jersey Friends of Anthony Nolan, said: “The team were keen to hear what we had to say about the opportunity to save lives when joining the register of potential stem cell donors."

“We were pleased that a large number of the players came forward to ask further questions. This was followed by 11 of the lads signing up and giving a cheek swab sample. This was an incredible result and we would like to thank the team for this great response.”

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