I can’t tell you how relieved we were when a match was found

Finn and his family

Finn and his family

Finn McEwen was seven when he was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) - a rare bone marrow disease that causes a decline in the body’s production of healthy blood cells.

MDS is an extremely rare diagnosis in children, which cannot be treated with chemotherapy. A blood stem cell donation was identified as his best hope, but, unfortunately, no one in his family was a suitable match. An unrelated donor had urgently to be found.

Two out of three people in need of a blood stem cell donation don’t find a suitable match in their own family and, like Finn, must look to an unrelated donor for help. That’s why DKMS is here – to help to find a matching donor for everyone in need. So far, there are over 300,000 potential lifesavers on standby with DKMS in the UK.

A bone marrow transplant for Finn

Thankfully, after launching an appeal to ‘Save Finn McEwen’ with support from Finn’s family and friends, DKMS and Everton Football Club, thousands of people signed up as potential blood stem cell donors with DKMS – many of them from Finn’s home city of Liverpool.

Everton FC Ambassador Graeme Sharp, who was part of the drive to encourage registrations for Finn’s appeal, said: “As a club we really got involved in Finn’s campaign and we saw a massive rise in people registering as a result of the appeal. Getting involved was really easy to do and we had great support from DKMS throughout.”

In June 2015, a matching donor was found and Finn was given the blood stem cell donation he so desperately needed.

Finn’s mum, Carole, told us: “It was the toughest time of our lives. I can’t tell you how relieved we were when a match was found and Finn received his bone marrow transplant from a selfless stranger”

Finn in hospital, recovering after his central/Hickman line was removed and before being allowed home

Finn in hospital, recovering after his central/Hickman line was removed and before being allowed home

“The difference is amazing.”

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing. In the 12 months post-donation, Finn suffered a number of setbacks. But, in 2017, we were delighted to hear Finn was in complete remission and celebrating his two-year donation anniversary with his family. He’s now back to doing what he loves best – playing football and watching Everton - his team that was such a huge support during his illness.

Carole said: “The Finn today is completely different from the little boy we knew two years ago. He is full of energy – the difference is amazing – he’s so happy and he’s got his confidence back.

“We’re so thankful to all those who have supported us in getting this far - the amazing people who have signed up to the registry, volunteers who staffed events so that others could sign up, and those who did an amazing job in spreading the word by telling anyone who would listen about how easy, but how important, it is to register to be a potential blood stem cell donor if you can.”

Please don’t forget

There are survivors because there are lifesavers. One day, you just might be the lifesaver someone is urgently looking for. Please don’t forget to keep your contact details up to date.