Editorial – 3 Apr 2019

The first I heard of Oscar Saxelby-Lee was when I read in my local newspaper on 02.03.2019 about donors queuing up to see if they were a match for the 5 year old.  He needed a stem cell donor as he has T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

After an appeal across the country, over 300 people turned up in 2 hours at Pitmaston Primary School in Worcester, his primary school, to give a swab sample and donate blood.  To cope with the demand, 80 volunteers worked in shifts to process each person signing up to donate.

Oscar has so far received 20 blood transfusions and four weeks of chemotherapy and he now needs a transplant within 4 weeks of his last chemotherapy session otherwise his chances of survival will “severely diminish” according to doctors.

This story really warmed my heart and was a perfect example of a community pulling together to help a child in need.  It was also a wonderful way to bring up an awareness of the stem cell register, and how people can help.

All too often in the past, I have read stories of children, with leukaemia, who sadly didn’t survive, because a donor could not be found.  One would usually assume that someone in the family would make a good match, but sadly this isn’t always the case.  As a mother myself, I would love to think that I could and would always be able do my level best to ensure my boy’s best chance of survival in life.  How those parents must feel whose children have this awful illness, and a donor isn’t found in time.  In Oscar’s case, the power of social media came to a positive conclusion, but there’s certainly a problem with the public not knowing enough about the stem cell register, given that there are still lots of deaths that could easily be prevented.

The great news for Oscar is that he has responded to the latest treatment, thousands of people have joined the stem cell register and he has 3 stem cell matches.  Oscar’s radiotherapy is expected to start on 29.04.2019, and then a period of isolation in preparation for his transplant.  I hope there will be a happy ending for this little boy and his loving family.

Lin Mason

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