A MOTHER whose eight-year-old son was diagnosed with blood cancer has urged more people to sign up to be stem cell donors.

In June 2018, mother-of-three Sam Couchman, rushed her son Ben to hospital after she became concerned with bruising which had appeared on his legs and back.

Doctors discovered that Ben, who received treatment at Oxford Children’s Hospital at the John Radcliffe, had a mass on his chest and was on the verge of having a stroke.

He was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

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Ben went into remission in October 2018 - he had intense chemotherapy until March 2019, then went into maintenance chemotherapy until his relapse.

Once he relapsed he had to start intense chemotherapy again followed by radiotherapy because the cancer had travelled to his brain.

The family, who live in Swindon, were informed that Ben’s best shot at a normal life would come from a blood stem cell transplant.

They took it upon themselves to urge members of the public to come forward and donate in order to save Ben’s life.

Oxford Mail:

Sam, Elliot and Ben Coachman on holiday

Ben received cancer treatment in Oxford, as well as the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, before finally receiving his transplant from his six-year-old brother Elliot, at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children in December.

The transplant was a success and Ben bounced back, he was able to live life like any other young boy – going to school and playing with friends.

His mother is asking everyone to spare a thought for those affected by this 'devastating' disease.

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Ms Couchman is urging more people to come forward and donate in order to help give families hope.

Charity DKMS said blood cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death in the UK but there is ‘a lot of fear’ around stem cell donation – of the process itself and of having a ‘depleted’ supply of stem cells but added: “This isn’t the case.”

After donation, stem cells regenerate within two weeks so the donor won’t lose anything.

Oxford Mail:

Blood stem cell donation is easy to do and similar to blood donation. Around 90 per cent of all donations are made through a method called peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC).

In this method, blood is taken from one of the donor’s arms and a machine extracts the blood stem cells from it.

The donor’s blood is then returned to them through their other arm. This is an outpatient procedure that is usually completed in four to six hours.

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In just 10 per cent of cases, donations are made through bone marrow collection. This is under general anaesthetic so that no pain is experienced.

Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with blood cancer and the register of stem cell donors – who are needed to save thousands of patients’ lives – does not currently meet the demand.

Oxford Mail:

Only one in three patients will find a donor match within their family and so every year more than 2,000 people in the UK are left searching for a matching blood stem cell donor each year.

NHS Blood and Transplant also confirmed last week it was still possible for people to donate blood, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Extra safety measures have been put in place in Oxfordshire to ensure ‘essential’ blood donations can continue.

This includes additional cleaning being done and NHS staff have started triaging everyone who arrives so only people with no risk factors can enter the donation area.

Visit dkms.org.uk.