Ben Walker: A Legacy

In June 2018 Ben Walker, at the time aged 11 was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML), Doctors told the family that the best course of treatment was a stem cell transplant, fast forward to October 2018, Ben received his stem cell donation from a stranger. Unfortunately just ten months later Ben relapsed and sadly passed away. Ben’s mum, Ginny, and dad James are so thankful to the person who gave them those precious additional months with their son “For a stranger to make a decision to attempt to save another’s life, is selfless and truly heart-warming and we will always be grateful to that very special Angel who stepped up to try. We would not have had the time we did with our son, were it not for their decision”

Every stage in Ben’s journey has been poignant, from finding a donor and having his transplant within six months of diagnosis, to returning home in December 2018 in time for Christmas. Which heartbreakingly turned out to be the last spent as a whole family of five. “It was a magical Christmas to have Ben home..wonderfully understated, just being glad to be all together under one roof”

Setting up a blog (www.bensepicjourney.org/) the Walker’s tracked and shared Ben’s progress. This proved to be just the start of a life-long commitment to raise awareness and the need for as many people as possible to register and potentially become a stem cell donor. Every year, around 2,000 people in the UK are searching for an unrelated matching donor. Which is DKMS’ mission. Every person who knew Ben and knows the family have charitably contributed. From swimathons, drumathons and running challenges. Every endurance has been physically active. Not only reflecting Ben’s fight but his highly creative nature and keen interest for music. Dad James a drummer and influence, made Ben immensely proud.

Ginny and James are determined to shine positivity for others in Ben’s name. Take DKMS Rocks, hand painted with a message, hidden across the UK, US plus in Copenhagen, Disneyland Paris, Malta and South Africa. All in the hope it will make someone smile or brighten their day. Then there is Ben’s Epic Christmas Boxes and Stockings, they were so well received it is been done again this year.

Currently Virtual Camino de Santiago de Compostela is the drive behind Ben’s legacy. By walking, running or cycling the 480 miles to help fundraised for DKMS. Ginny ran, virtually 120 miles in May 2020 so is well prepared for this challenge. Finishing on Valentine’s Day 2021. February 14th is important an important date, anniversary milestone. Marking 100 days post transplant for Ben. Show Ginny support by registering or donating below.

Ginny has started a podcast www.podbean.com and written a memoir ‘Family of Five’ which will be self-published October 2020. Both are to help grieving families with the loss of a child, sibling.

Every 20 minutes, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer. This diagnosis is devastating, and during the corona virus outbreak, it is even more crucial that we do all we can to offer hope to people with blood cancer and blood disorders. We have seen the numbers of people joining the blood stem cell register decline dramatically in recent times, and now, more than ever before, we need you to sign up. For many, a blood stem cell donation is their best chance of recovery and only 30% of people find a match within their family. This means the remainder will need to find an anonymous blood stem cell donor, and that could be you.

Information about registration

Registering as a blood stem cell donor is easy, simply check your eligibility and request your home swab kit. Once you receive the kit, you will need to swab the inside of your cheek, following the instructions on the pack, before sending them back to us. Once we receive your swabs, they are processed in our lab to determine you tissue typing. Your typing is then stored, in an anonymised form, on the global database. This means you can be identified as a match for anyone in the world

A note about Coronavirus

We understand there are lots of worries and concerns around coronavirus and would like to reassure you that it is completely safe to request and send in your swabs.

If you're a match

If you are identified as a match, you will donate in one of two ways. In the majority of cases this is via a process called “Peripheral Blood Stem Cell collection”, which is a little like giving blood. In 10% of cases, the stem cells are taken from your bone marrow, under general anaesthetic. The method of donation is chosen by the patients team based on what is most suitable for them.

Together we will beat blood cancer.

To register as a blood stem cell donor, you need to be between 17-55, in general good health and not registered with another donor centre. To check your eligibility and request your swab kit, follow the link below.

It costs us £40 to register a new donor on the UK stem cell registry. As a charity, we rely on monetary donations from the public to help cover this cost and greatly appreciate any contribution, no matter how big or small.

If you are unable to register as a potential donor, we would be very grateful if you could consider making a contribution towards the cost of a registration.