In an extraordinary turn of event almost 5000 people queued up in the rain as donors and checked if they were the right fit for the young boy with cancer.
Reacting to a heartfelt appeal from the parents of Oscar Saxelby-Lee, as many as 4855 people were willing to donate in case their stem-cell matched for the five-year-old boy, who was in desperate need of a donor to treat an aggressive and rare cancer.
It started when Oscar’s parents took him to the doctors after observing bruises on his body. It was soon confirmed that he was suffering from T-cell acute lymphoblastic lymphoma (T-ALL).
It was then a race against time for the parents. The kid apparently had months to live if he didn’t get the timely help. Luckily, the parents found support in abundance and people queued up outside the Pitmaston Primary School near Worcester.
Oscar’s school teacher, Sarah Keating, said: “I’ve been teaching for 20 years and I’ve never had a child go through something like this.
“You hear about children getting cancer and you think ‘that’s dreadful’, then you move on. In this case we haven’t moved on, we will fight this.”
A teaching assistant at the school, Laura Senter, added: “I couldn’t believe it [Oscar’s diagnosis]. I saw him before Christmas and he was his usual happy-go-lucky self.
“It’s a nightmare for this to happen. You can’t really do anything about it, it’s heart-breaking.
“If a child falls over and cuts their knee you can put a plaster on it. With something like this you can’t just fix it.
“That’s why we have gone into ‘action mode’ to try and find a donor.
“I visited Oscar in hospital last month when it was his birthday. All the parents bought gifts for him.
“Because of all the chemo he was very swollen but you could tell he was very much still him inside.
“When we came out we knew we needed to do everything we could to support him.”
DKMS, a charity that tests the potential donor swabs, has confirmed that this is the largest number of potential donors it has ever had, explaining that the previous record at a registration event was 2,200 people.
After Oscar’s diagnosis in December 2018, his parents – Olivia Saxelby and Jamie-Lee – launched an appeal called ‘Hand in Hand for Oscar’, aimed at getting people to register to be a blood stem-cell donor.
Olivia said: “We felt like we could not see light at the end of the tunnel, but when looking at Oscar’s cheeky smile, bravery and determination, we managed to pull our strength together again.
“From that moment of fear and confusion, we as a family became stronger than ever. Oscar reminded us how to fight again and just how courageous he is.
“Not once has he shown weakness, nor has he ceased to amaze us throughout the most difficult times and that to us is a true warrior.
“Oscar is a fun, loving, energetic five-year-old boy who deserves to live to the full alongside the other troopers fighting such horrific diseases.
“Not only does he need to enjoy a normal life a child should live, he now needs someone else to save him.”
Hopefully, a suitable donor will be found as soon as possible and the kid will be disease-free.