TODAY the Examiner launches a campaign to get more people to sign up as bone marrow donors – the dying wish of brave journalist Adrian Sudbury.
We want more people to join the bone marrow donor register. Leading the way is 26-year-old Adrian, who has battled leukaemia for 18 months and now has only weeks to live.
We want the importance of bone marrow donation, and how easy it is to become a donor, to be taught in schools.
Adrian – know as Sudders to friends – wants to see it adopted as part of the National Curriculum in schools or as part of students’ pastoral care if they are at college or university.
Adrian underwent a bone marrow transplant as part of his treatment. He learned last week that the transplant had failed – and was told further chemotherapy or radiotherapy would be unlikely to cure him.
He made the decision to cease treatment and spend his last few weeks with family and friends rather than in hospital.
However, he has set himself one last task – to raise awareness of the need for more people to join the bone marrow donation register and give other leukaemia sufferers like him a chance at life.
“There are currently 7,000 people out there waiting for a transplant,’’ he said.
“At least I had a chance with my transplant, whereas they don’t have that.”
Adrian says many do not sign up to be donors because there is a lot of misunderstanding about what is involved.
“I used to give blood, but never joined the bone marrow register as I thought the procedure could leave you paralysed,’’ he said. “The problem is people think it is some horrific procedure and I want to show as many people as possible that it’s not like that.”
He believes that an easy way to dispel the myths is to educate people about donation at a younger age.
In Germany, sixth form students are educated on becoming a bone marrow donor, why it is important and how they can apply.
As a result, Germany has one of Europe’s highest number of donors.
Adrian believes we need a similar system in British schools and colleges. It would mean more people are informed about becoming donors as standard, lessening the burden of raising awareness for charities such as the Anthony Nolan Trust.
As part of the Examiner campaign, we have started a petition calling on the Government to require all schools and colleges to include education about bone marrow donation as part of their curriculum or pastoral care programmes.
Adrian said: “It won’t take any real money, just a case of setting aside a short period of time – as little as half an hour – to give a talk and make sure they have the information. It’s just a common sense thing that we can do and, hopefully, it will save lives or give people a chance. At least I had that.”
Copies of the petition are available to sign at the Examiner office on Queen Street South and an online petition on the Downing Street website is in the pipeline.
We are appealing for the many readers who have followed Adrian’s story – and his Baldy’s Blog at http://baldyblog.freshblogs.co.uk – to sign the petitions and pledge support to our campaign.
The campaign has already won backing from local MPs.
Colne Valley MP Kali Mountford has pledged her support and is making efforts to arrange meetings between Adrian and high level ministers. She also hopes to be able to raise a question about the issue in the House of Commons.
Kali said: “I have known Adrian since he first started working at the Express and Chronicle, when he was a very young man.
“He still is a young man and if someone like him can do so much and be so inspirational it might send a message to other young people better than any politician or someone older can.
“I think it’s a really good thing that someone in his position wants to send a message about the future even though he may not have one himself.
“Some of us might spend 80 years hoping for a legacy but he has already found a way of leaving one. If each of us tries to be part of his campaign, we will have done something good.”
The campaign is already attracting a wealth of support through a group created to raise awareness on social networking site Facebook.
The group – Bone Marrow Appeal – gained more than 100 members in its first two days and numbers are swelling, with people keen to spread the word about bone marrow donation and to support Adrian’s efforts.
Adrian himself is currently dedicating his time to giving interviews on TV, radio and in the national press.
“It’s kind of a legacy for me,’’ he said. “Joining a register is one of the true acts of altruism and human kindness. Who knows, you may end up saving someone else on the other side of the planet.”