THE family of a teen battling leukaemia appealed for more stem cell donors — saying: “How amazing would it be to save a life?”
Harrison Walch needs a blood transplant and no-one on the worldwide register currently is a match for the 14-year-old.
The youngster, who plays right-back for Aston Swallownest U15s Blues, has had two rounds of chemo since being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in April.
Mum Nickie (40) said: “One day I spotted a bruise on Harrison’s leg. We put that down to him being a growing teenage boy who loves playing football. But more small bruises appeared.
“I remember a long dog walk when Harrison was struggling to cycle. The next day he went to school as usual but he wasn’t himself when he got home.
“I looked for Harrison’s symptoms online.
"Leukaemia came up and I had a sick feeling in my stomach.
“Harrison had always been a healthy child, we would all catch colds but not Harrison. He had never even been prescribed antibiotics.”
Harrison (pictured above, centre, with his family, attended his GP and tests found an extremely high white blood count so he was admitted to Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
The family were given the diagnosis and told Harrison would need a bone marrow biopsy and chemotherapy.
“Our worst fears were realised,” said Nickie, of Aston. “Devastated does not even begin to cover how we were feeling.
“You read about it, see it on social media and the TV, but you never ever think your child will be diagnosed with cancer.”
After his second chemo cycle, doctors found that Harrison may be at a higher risk of the leukaemia returning and would need a stem cell transplant — putting new, healthy cells in his bloodstream.
Older sister Daisy was tested but was not a match.
Rebecca Pritchard, head of register development at blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, said: “Somewhere out there is Harrison’s perfect match who could help give him a second chance of life.
“We are doing everything we can to support his family as they search for a donor. If you’re aged 16 to 30 and in good general health, you can join the register online and we’ll send a cheek swab in the post.
“If you’re found to be a match, you could donate your stem cells and give hope to families like Harrison’s. Without you, there is no cure.”
And Nickie added: “Harrison has taken it all in his stride. Though he understandably has some down days, he tries to be positive.
“We really want to spread the word. We didn’t know about the stem cell register, all those people, worldwide, that need help.
“It’s important to get our story out to raise awareness and hopefully inspire more people to sign up. How amazing would it be to save someone’s life?”
More men are needed as males currently make up less than a fifth of the register.
Visit anthonynolan.org/Harrison for more information.
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