Five-year-old boy Oscar Saxelby-Lee of Worcester has a rare type of cancer and his family is desperately trying to save his life. According to the doctors, the poor child only has about three months to find a matching stem cell donor to treat his Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).
In a touching moment that has since inspired the internet, a record-breaking number of 4,855 people showed up and stayed in line for hours – despite the rain – to be tested as potential donors.
In the UK, the rare disease affects only about 650 people each year and around half of the patients are children. So far, Oscar has had “20 blood transfusions and four weeks of chemotherapy.”
Sarah Keating, Oscar’s teacher, shared:
“I’ve been teaching for 20 years and I’ve never had a child go through something like this.
“You hear about children getting cancer and you think ‘that’s dreadful’, then you move on. In this case we haven’t moved on, we will fight this.”
Jamie and Olivia, Oscar’s parents, are taking inspiration from the boy’s courage.
Olivia, 23, said:
“We felt like we could not see light at the end of the tunnel, but when looking at Oscar’s cheeky smile, bravery and determination, we managed to pull our strength together again.
“From that moment of fear and confusion, we as a family became stronger than ever. Oscar reminded us how to fight again and just how courageous he is.
“Not once has he shown weakness, nor has he ceased to amaze us throughout the most difficult times and that to us is a true warrior.
“Oscar is a fun, loving, energetic five-year-old boy who deserves to live to the full alongside the other troopers fighting such horrific diseases.
“Not only does he need to enjoy a normal life a child should live, he now needs someone else to save him.”
Meanwhile, teaching assistant Laura Senter added that Oscar’s diagnosis shocked everyone, especially because it happened so suddenly.
“I couldn’t believe it. I saw him before Christmas and he was his usual happy-go-lucky self,” recalled Senter. “It’s a nightmare for this to happen. You can’t really do anything about it, it’s heartbreaking. We have gone into action mode to try and find a donor.”
Fortunately, the public immediately responded to the call for donors – and they came in overwhelming numbers.
More than 80 volunteers assisted those who lined up in the rain. Scientists are hoping they will find someone with a similar blood cell structure with Oscar.
According to DKMS spokesperson Sarah Gray:
“It’s really difficult to find a match, it’s essentially like winning the lottery.
“It’s very complex and so the more people we can get on that register, the more chances there are to saves lives of patients like Oscar.”
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