It only takes 180 seconds – those short few minutes can go a long way to helping save a life.
A donor event will be held tomorrow (Saturday) at the Kenilworth Wardens Cricket Club grounds in an effort to help find a blood stem cell match for 12-year-old Paddy Igoe, a player on the juniors team at the club.
Paddy became poorly in January and was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia. Paddy and his family learned he needed a bone marrow transplant in order to save his life. There’s no match for Paddy on the international data base.
Nicki Dandy, a close family friend and assistant head teacher at Kenilworth School, said they have organised several donor events in Paddy’s native Coventry. But this is the first such event in Kenilworth.
She said: “We have not yet found Paddy his match, but have found a successful match for another boy.”
The Kenilworth Wardens event will run from 11.30am to 6pm.
To help out people only need to turn up, fill out a form and then take three 60-second mouth swabs, which simply involves moving something similar to a cotton bud around the inside the cheek to collect cells from the cheek. The tests are sent to away for processing checking for a potential match.
Paddy’s family and friends joined together to form a campaign called #Paddy’s Plea in conjunction with DKMS to set out to find Paddy his blood stem cell match. DKMS stands for Deutsche Knochenmarkspenderdatei (German Marrow Donor Programme), and was founded in Germany in 1991. They hold the register for all stem cell donors.
Only around 30 per cent of people find a blood donor from family.
Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma.
Nicki added: “These swabbing events are incredibly important as currently only two per cent of the population in the UK are on the donor register.
Therefore, not only are we increasing the chance of finding Paddy, or somebody else, a life saving match, we are also desperately trying to raise awareness of the importance of becoming a potential donor.”
Paddy has been an active athlete until he fell ill in late 2018.
Nicki’s husband, Rich Dandy, who is a PE teacher at Kenilworth School, has coached Paddy in both football and cricket.
Nicki added: “Paddy has played football for Alvis Football Club (Coventry) competing on a Saturday and a Sunday with this team for many years.
He has been an integral part of the team, helping them to achieve many victories. His nickname in the team is ‘Paddy Bulldog’ largely down to the fact that he was such a tenacious player. Paddy was still playing football up until the end of December when he started to feel poorly.
Rich was also Paddy’s cricket coach for two years when he played for Kenilworth Wardens, sadly Paddy has been unable to play this year due to his illness.”
Anthony Pidgeon, chairman of the cricket section of Wardens Cricket club, took to Twitter to tell others about the swab event.
He said: “We’re more than happy to provide a venue to try and help. You don’t have to be a member. Anyone is welcome.”