28-year-old Stephen is an accomplished trombonist, conductor and guitarist, and has even conducted at Glastonbury Music Festival. He has also performed for Prince Charles and has played alongside Sting. On top of this, Stephen won the 2009 BBC Radio 2 Brass Soloist of the Year competition.
Sadly, Stephen was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in February 2016. He was undergoing treatment and had been told that a blood stem cell donation from a matching donor was his best chance of survival.
Stephen's appeal spawned its own 'Acrobat Challenge', where participants perform ‘The Acrobat’ – a well known piece of music amongst Stephen’s fellow trombonists – and nominate others to do the same. The challenge was started to help raise money for a specialist treatment which Stephen needs before he cancould have a blood stem cell transplant. Fortunately, the £90,000 target was surpassed and the challenge was used to encourage people to register as potential blood stem cell donors.
Some famous faces have got involved, including Katherine Jenkins and Nicholas Lyndhurst - check out their challenge with the English National Opera Orchestra here.
As a suitable match wasn’t found for Stephen, he received a blood stem cell donation from his mum. We are pleased to hear that he is now well on the road to recovery!
Stephen’s mother, Jo, said: “We wouldn’t be in this place without you all, there is still a long way for Stephen to go… but we know that with time, love and lots of care he will get back on his feet again.”
Stephen’s #SwabforSykes campaign inspired many people around the world to donate money for a specialist treatment for Stephen and to register as potential lifesavers. As of February 2019, four of those people have been identified as a match for someone else in need of a second chance at life and have donated potentially lifesaving blood stem cells.
One of the most recent matches, Adrian, donated via peripheral blood stem cell collection.
He recalls: “The whole process was totally pain free. At one point after a couple of hours, my lips felt tingly a bit like they were well warmed up for playing the cornet! This was a sign that I needed calcium (it is a common side effect of the anti-coagulant that is used). The nurse provided some calcium tablets.
"Other than that, and the noise the machine made at times, it was easy to forget I was hooked up to the machine!
“I felt back to normal within the next couple of days. I was back at rehearsal the following night as the band prepared for Brass in Concert, and the gala concert with Matt Ford and Mike Lovatt at the Sage in Gateshead.
"A few days later DKMS were able to tell me that my stem cells had been flown over to the USA and had been transplanted into an American lady. DKMS will receive 3 updates from the patient’s doctor in the next 2 years which they will pass on to me. Fingers crossed that the stem cells do their work!"
If you are aged 17-55 and in general good health, you could be a matching donor for someone like Stephen. Find out more about blood stem cell donation and check your eligibility to be a potential donor.