Event organizers were shocked by the sight of more than 5,000 people waiting for hours in the rain to check if they were eligible to be stem cell donors for 5-year-old Oscar Saxelby-Lee fighting a rare cancer.
In December 2018, the little boy, from Worcester, England, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, called T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, after unexplained bruising appeared on his body.
It is an aggressive type of leukemia that causes the bone marrow to release immature white blood cells. Doctors said the treatment requires a stem cell transplant within three months.
His primary school in Worcester organized an event to find someone who can donate blood stem cells. The teachers and administrative staff were going to do whatever it takes to find a donor.
His teacher, Sarah Keating, said that this was the first time a child went through something like this in her 20-year teaching career. Yet, she again stated that they were determined to fight it.
Oscar’s teaching assistant Laura Senter, 22, said his diagnosis shocked everyone in his class as his illness developed so fast that she couldn’t even believe it. She said that the entire story was heartbreaking, and it inspired them to try to find a donor to save this boy’s life.
The crowdfunding page was set up in February 2019, and anyone between 17 and 55 years of age could register as a donor. The school and Oscar’s parents raised over $17,000, which was much more than they’d hoped for.
The donor event was run by more than 200 volunteers and on the first day, over 1,800 people showed up to register as potential donors. The next day, more than 3,000 people lined up, setting a record for the most people to ever volunteer as stem cell donors.
It was pouring down rain, and Sue Bladen, the business manager said that nobody moaned, even though they queued around the block. The spirit and generosity of everyone were incredible.
After the event, another thousand people registered to be potential donors online.
Lisa Nugent, the head of donor recruitment explained that there were 17,000 HLA characteristics that had to be a good match for someone to become a donor. This made it very difficult to find a suitable match.
His mother Olivia Saxelby said that this fun, loving, energetic 5-year-old boy deserves to live to the fullest, alongside the other troopers fighting such horrific diseases.
Fortunately, Oscar had a match as Bladen announced on the crowdfunding page. Oscar had a long way to go but he was on the next stage of his journey.
He is definitely a fighter!