21 November 2019
AL MURRAY, one of the UK’s most popular comedians, is working with DKMS to urge new potential lifesavers to sign up to the blood stem cell register.
We launched a major media campaign with Al on Friday, where he spoke of his work with DKMS on a number of high profile shows including Good Morning Britain, BBC News, The Victoria Derbyshire Show, and Sky News, as well as a number of radio appearances and national newspaper coverage. This led to a record breaking 20,000 new registrations in a single day.
The multi-award winning comedian, best known for his alter-ego ‘The Pub Landlord’, has a very personal reason for leading this campaign – his six-year old nephew Finley was diagnosed this summer with JMML (juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia), a rare and aggressive form of childhood leukaemia, affecting around one to two children out of a million each year.
Finley is currently undergoing chemotherapy at Great Ormond Street Hospital, but his doctors have advised that his best chance of beating the disease is to receive a bone marrow transplant. A sibling or close family member is usually the best match to donate bone marrow for transplantation. However, Finley’s family have been tested and nobody is a suitable match - his best and only hope is for a stranger to be identified as Finley’s ‘genetic twin’.
After a search of the worldwide register, two perfect matches were identified, offering Finley the second chance at life he so desperately needs. However, subsequently both potential donors withdrew their consent, and currently there are no other suitable matches on the worldwide register.
Just 2% of the population of the UK are on the blood stem cell registry, and yet every 20 minutes, somebody in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma.
Al said: “Finley’s opportunity to live a long and healthy life is now in the hands of a complete stranger, who feels moved enough by his story to join the stem cell register and give him a chance. At this point, it is literally just a numbers game. It only takes a few minutes to sign up with DKMS and do a simple cheek swab, and then you are on standby to help save a life. The more people who sign up, the more chance there is of finding Finley, and others, their life line”.
“Finley is a typical 6 year old boy with a bright future – he likes football, swimming, and playing minecraft, and he loves planes and trains. We have to find him his match. The alternative is not an option.”
DKMS is also working closely with Finley’s family and organising registration drives to sign up more potential donors in the hope of finding him, and any of the other 2,000 people in the UK currently searching for a match, their potential lifesavers.
Jonathan Pearce, CEO of DKMS UK said: “During this difficult time for Finley and his family, we at DKMS will do whatever we can to support them and assist with finding him a suitable match. Working with Al Murray, and Finley’s parents, will enable us to inform a wider audience about blood cancer, and the urgent need for more potential lifesavers to come forward and become donors.”
“DKMS is dedicated to the fight against blood cancer, and are striving towards our vision of providing a matching blood stem cell donor for everyone who needs one. In the UK, we have now signed up more than 550,000 potential lifesavers, and helped to give nearly 900 people a second chance at life. But we need more”.
How you can help
If you’d like to register as a potential blood stem cell donor you can check your eligibility and request a home swab kit today.
Anyone aged between 17-55 and in general good health can go on standby as a potential lifesaver. If you're not eligible or you're already registered, why not check the other ways to get involved in the fight against blood cancer or help us cover donor registration costs?