PRIME Minister Gordon Brown has given his full backing to Adrian Sudbury’s campaign to get more people to sign up as bone marrow donors.
Adrian, 26, met Mr Brown at the House of Commons yesterday lunchtime to discuss how education about bone marrow donation can be improved.
Leukaemia sufferer Adrian – who has been given just weeks to live – wants the Government to ensure all sixth form and college students are given at least one talk a year about the importance of bone marrow donation, what it involves and how they can sign up.
Gordon Brown talked with Adrian about what the Government could do – and also discussed Adrian’s blog, which he has been using to chronicle his fight with leukaemia for the past 18 months.
The PM said he had read Baldy’s Blog – which can be found at http://baldyblog.freshblogs.co.uk – and had been deeply moved by Adrian’s account of his illness.
Adrian said: “He was really impressed by the blog and he had been away to read it to prepare for the meeting, which was great. He said he thought I was really brave and he really admired what we are trying to achieve.
“He was incredibly receptive to what we are trying to do. I talked about the sixth form education idea and he said ‘we will look into it and see what we can do.’ He did seem like he really would take this forward though and do everything he can to help.”
The Prime Minister had ideas of his own for the campaign, including making an information video to show in sixth forms, possibly featuring celebrities or high profile figures who appeal to the age group.
A national public information campaign on television was also mooted.
Adrian has already won backing for his campaign from Health Secretary Alan Johnson and Ed Balls, secretary of state for Children, Schools and Families.
Mr Johnson’s staff are working to determine whether the health budget could cover a TV campaign, while Mr Balls’ team are investigating how talks about bone marrow donation could be worked into citizenship lessons in the curriculum.
The meetings with the PM, Mr Balls and Mr Johnson were set up by Colne Valley MP Kali Mountford, who has pledged her full support to Adrian’s campaign.
She said the meetings had been a huge success.
“I was very pleased. Gordon Brown was really giving it his full attention and was thinking about new ideas himself, which can only be a good thing.
“It wasn’t just a mindless, empty promise. It was a genuinely thought through meeting – he could even quote bits of Adrian’s blog. He had obviously been deeply moved by it too. He had lots of questions. He didn’t know for example that you could be matched with a donor anywhere in the world and he was truly shocked at how many people are waiting for transplants. He said it was a much bigger problem than he realised. He said something must be done.”
She said a national TV awareness campaign would be a good addition to the idea of educating sixth form students.
She said: “The public awareness campaign would be good in addition to Adrian’s idea about education in schools and colleges.
“It is not just young people we need to target. You can join the bone marrow donor register up to the age of 40 and, by that age, when you may have children yourself, you start thinking about how something like this could happen to your own children. You might want to get involved and donate.”
Ms Mountford said there were ideas already being formed by Government about how to boost donor numbers, but Adrian’s campaign had brought the issue to the fore.
“It has made the ministers realise that their existing ideas and Adrian’s idea just fit together and could turn into something much bigger than anyone imagined. There is a synergy happening.”
For more information on how to become a donor, visit www.anthonynolan.org.uk, contact the charity on 0901 88 22 234 or visit www.blood.uk. To find out more about Adrian and his campaign, visit www.examiner.co.uk.