Stars back Christmas plea to find blood stem cell donor

Celebrities from the world of TV, film, sport and reality stars have supported the #IansArmy campaign to find a blood stem cell donor for Ian Witham and other people in his situation.

Last updated: 19/05/2022

Father of three and a man with a big heart Ian, 42, from Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire was diagnosed wit h an aggressive form of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in September this year and now the hunt is on to find his lifesaver.

Celebrity support

Footballers past and present of Ian’s favourite football club Arsenal have been showing their support including; Jack Wilshere, Ray Parlour as well as Ray Winstone, Jamie Redknapp, James Corden, Rio Ferdinand, Teddy Sherringham, Holly Willoughby, Abbey Clancy, Tamar Hassan, Olly Murs, Anthony Ogogo and Tamzin Outhwaite to name a few.

Thank you so much for your support Ray with the #IansArmy appeal for a blood stem cell donor for Ian and others fighting a blood cancer or a blood disorder! It really makes a difference in the fight against blood cancer!

A post shared by DKMS UK (@dkms_uk) on Dec 4, 2017 at 10:40am PST.

‪@ians_army a 40yr old Father of 3, battling a rare leukaemia&looking for a bone marrow donor. ‪He is in the 10% minority unable to find a match worldwide we need to find a match quickly! Please register with DKMS as you can save his life. Getting tested is simple and easy to do, just register at ‪https://www.dkms.org.uk/en Me & @anton_ferdinand5 signed up too...

A post shared by Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) on Dec 1, 2017 at 10:44am PST.

Ian said: “It warms my heart that so many stars are helping to raise awareness of my call to find a blood stem cell donor. It’s going to be a real challenge, but with six out of 10 blood cancer patients in the UK finding an unrelated matching blood stem cell donor and Christmas just around the corner we’re all hoping for a Christmas miracle. We just need one matching donor.”

A blood stem cell donor is urgently needed

Ian’s condition is particularly rare with only about 650 people diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK.

Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer such as leukaemia. It is the third most common cause of cancer death in the UK. However, less than half of the UK population are aware of blood cancer issues and 83% don't know that a simple cheek swab is all it takes to register as a potential blood stem cell donor.

A blood stem cell donation from a genetically similar person can often be the best hope of survival for people fighting a blood cancer or a blood disorder. Ian’s sisters have both been tested but were not a match, so he is relying on finding a match from an unrelated donor.

A loving father

Ian’s wife, Hannah, said: “Ian is a loving husband and a devoted father to our three gorgeous girls. He’s such a selfless man and always believes in helping others. He’s actively supported ordinary people impacted with blood cancers. If you’re looking to make a difference this Christmas, please contact DKMS and consider becoming a potential lifesaver. Ian desperately needs a second chance at life.”

How you can help

If you are aged 17-55 years old and in good general health you can register for your home swab kit.

If you've already registered but haven't returned your swabs please remember to post them back. Otherwise we won't be to analyse your tissue type and add you to the stem cell registry.

Please support us in registering more potential lifesavers. You can donate £10 by texting IANSARMY to 70191 or make an online donation.

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