World Marrow Donor Day takes place on Saturday 16th September 2017, and the Welsh Blood Service are using the day to appeal for bone marrow donors to join the register.
The day gives services across the world the opportunity to thank all donors who have signed up to donate bone marrow or stem cells for patients in need of a transplant.
Each year, 20,000 patients across the world desperately search for an unrelated bone marrow donor to be a match and give them a second chance at life.
The more donors who join the register, the more likely a patient is to find a match.
Back in 2014, eighteen month old baby Jack was diagnosed with disease Hurler Syndrome.
The rare condition means that Jack lacks a particular enzyme which helps break down the natural sugars in his body. Without the enzyme, sugar can build up and damage vital organs including the heart.
Doctors said one of the only ways of treating the condition was through a bone marrow transplant.
Luckily, a bone marrow match for Jack was found; 25 year old blood donor James Evans from Cardiff. Jack had the transplant at Great Ormond Street Hospital in December 2014 and made a full recovery.
Jack’s Mother, Nadine Pullen, said: “Without the bone marrow transplant, Jack would be in a wheelchair. But the bone marrow transplant has allowed Jack’s body to reproduce the enzyme he was lacking.
“I wouldn’t have the little boy I know and love today if it wasn’t for this man.”
Jack, his mum Nadine and dad Kieron travelled from their home in Portsmouth to the Welsh Blood Service headquarters in Talbot Green on 10th March 2017 for an emotional meet-up with James Evans and his family.
Nadine added: “It was so amazing that it’s hard to put it into words. It was like meeting someone I’d known for a long time. James felt like a brother, like part of the family.
“The connection between Jack and James was amazing. Jack managed to get across his character really well. He was singing, dancing and really showing off.”
James, originally from Carmarthenshire, said meeting Jack was one of the best moments of his life.
He said: “It was so lovely to see him bouncing around the place and doing so well. It just brought everything full circle. He’s a really nice kid – and I got a good cuddle out of him!”
“If anyone needs a reason to sign up to the register, all they need to do is look at his smiling face.”
The Welsh Blood Service need to people of Wales to sign up to the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry.
If you’re aged between 17-30, visit welsh-blood.org.uk to find out more about joining the register, or call us on 0800 252266.