'How do you repay a stranger for saving your son's life?' - fresh hope for cancer-stricken South Yorkshire teen as donor answers call

A South Yorkshire teenager battling cancer has been given fresh hope after a stranger answered his family's call for a potentially life-saving donor.

Tuesday, 30th July 2019, 8:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 31st July 2019, 5:35 pm

Harrison Walch, from Aston, in Rotherham, was diagnosed last April with acute myeloid leukaemia and his family have been desperately searching since then for a potential donor to boost the 14-year-old's chances of survival.

They were delighted when a 90 per cent match was found earlier this month but still faced an anxious wait for that stranger to agree to the procedure.

They revealed today that he had said yes, and Harrison is booked in for the bone marrow transplant which could give the young Sheffield United fan a second chance of life on August 30.

Harrison Walch with his family

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Announcing what they described as the ‘best news ever’, they wrote: “How do you ever repay someone for saving your son’s life? We are all so emotional/thankful/grateful/scared…. There’s a long road ahead but we hope there is a promising future.

“The reason I am sharing all this with you is so that you all know the importance of joining the stem cell register and the process that families go through. A simple cheek swab can lead to great things.

“If you haven’t already, please consider registering with @anthonynolancharity or @dkms_uk. The chances of you ever being called on are very slim, but how awesome would it be to put on your CV ‘lifesaver’.”

Harrison, who plays for Aston Swallonest Boys Blue, is a big Sheffield United fan

Harrison’s family have been working with the Anthony Nolan charity to raise awareness of the need for potential blood stem cell donors to help the 2,000 people with blood cancer or disorders it says require a transplant in the UK each year.

They want more people to join the register see if they are a match for someone like Harrison, for whom a transplant could be their last chance of survival.

Research has shown younger people are more likely to be chosen to donate cells, and the charity is particularly keen for more young men to sign up as they make up just 18 per cent of the register.

Harrison's mum Nickie previously said the donor’s identity is kept anyonymous by the charity, which found the match, and can only be made known two years after the transplant – and even then only if the donor wants to hear from the family.

For more information, visit www.anthonynolan.org or www.dkms.org.uk/en.