IT takes just a few minutes and costs you nothing . . . but you could end up saving someone’s life.
Today Al Murray is urging generous Sun readers to become blood stem cell donors — as his six-year-old nephew fights cancer.
Finley Relf has a rare and aggressive form of leukaemia and his only hope of survival is a bone marrow transplant.
Pub Landlord comedian Al, 51, who is backing a campaign by cancer charity DKMS to boost donors on their register, told The Sun: “It’s a nightmare situation.
“You think things like this will never happen to you or your family. It’s hard to put into words.”
Someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer, such as a leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma, every 20 minutes.
Yet just two per cent of the population is registered as a blood stem cell donor.
Finley’s ordeal started earlier this year when his parents Ben and Nicky Relf noticed he was losing weight. Doctors discovered his spleen was enlarged and he underwent numerous tests.
Two months ago, he was diagnosed with juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia which affects just two in a million children a year.
Finley, who lives in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, with three-year-old brother Jacob, is having chemotherapy at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital.
‘SAVE SOMEONE’S LIFE’
Al said: “He has to have a full seven days of chemotherapy each time. It can make him very sick.”
Doctors have warned Al’s family that Finley’s best chance of beating the disease is a bone marrow transplant.
Relatives including Al and his partner Eleanor Relf, 40, who is Ben’s sister, have been tested but sadly no one is a suitable match.
Following a search of the worldwide register, a perfect match was identified but then the donor withdrew consent a few weeks ago.
Al said of the blow: “It’s obviously up to them. They may not have been well enough to do it. I have to be philosophical about it.
“But I really feel for Ben and Nicky. You think, ‘Please can something go their way?’ They’re hard-working people who care for others. They’re both paramedics. They know what they are looking at. We have to find him a match. The alternative is not an option.”
Al says Finley, who has had three rounds of chemotherapy, is too young to understand how poorly he is. He said: “Finley says, ‘I’ve got a bug in my blood that needs squashing.’ I don’t think he knows what the stakes are.”
The star added: “Time is the thing and the pressure is on. He is not getting any better.”
Finley’s family are hoping another stranger will be identified as his “genetic twin” with similar tissue. Al said: “It’s not like blood types. It’s much more fundamental to your DNA. It’s not quite fingerprints but it’s on that level, so that’s why we need more people to join the register.
“You can order a swab test kit to be sent to your home. It takes about two minutes to take a swab of your cheek.
“It couldn’t be easier and it doesn’t cost you a thing. You may not be able to help Finley but you might be a match for someone else. This is your opportunity to save someone’s life.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP SAVE A LIFE
REGISTERING to be a blood stem cell donor is easy.
People aged 17 to 55 in general good health can find out more online at dkms.org.uk.