A grandfather from Todmorden is set to have a potentially lifesaving stem cell transplant after the blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan found him a match.
When Chris Barker’s family and friends learned that he would need a stem cell transplant they launched a campaign – Spit4Dad – to encourage more potential donors to join the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register.
They are now overjoyed to be able to announce that the 59-year-old’s transplant is due to take place in September after the search proved successful.
Mr Barker said: “We were absolutely delighted when we were told that a match had been found – it was a very emotional moment.
“However, we know there is still a long road ahead of us - that is something we are prepared for and we are hugely grateful to Anthony Nolan and to the donor who has given me this chance.”
Mr Barker, who works for chartered accountancy firm Baker Tilly, was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) in May 2011. This condition occurs when the bone marrow malfunctions and stops producing the right quality and quantity of blood cells. It caused Mr Barker to go on to develop acute myeloid leukaemia.
As a result, the father-of-three was told that he would need a stem cell transplant and Anthony Nolan started to search its registers for a suitable donor.
After an extensive search, Mr Barker was found a cord blood match – this means his transplant will see him receive stem cells taken from the blood of a donated umbilical cord.
Even though a match has been found for Mr Barker, his family are continuing to urge people to join the Anthony Nolan register in a bid to help other patients in desperate need.
Walsden Cricket Club asked all of its followers to change their profile picture in support of the Spit4Dad appeal, and recently held a Walsden v Todmorden veterans match to raise awareness of Anthony Nolan.
Mr Barker’s daughter Cathy, urged people to sign up to the register: “We are continuing to encourage people to sign up as any new donors we recruit could be a potentially lifesaving match for someone in desperate need.”
The family are holding a recruitment event on Saturday, July 26, at Walsden Cricket Club, from noon to 5pm, where people aged 16 to 30 can sign up to the register on the spot, simply by providing a saliva sample.
Mr Barker said: “We never realised until now how important it is that people support Anthony Nolan and join the register.
“There are thousands of different tissue types out there, but unless you sign up to the register you could be a lifesaving match for someone without even knowing it.”