The mother of a two year-old boy suffering from cancer has appealed to the public to consider donating their bone marrow in an effort to save her son’s life.
Charlie Craig is battling Leukaemia and needs a transplant urgently, prompting his family to hold a donation day in their hometown of Cookstown next month in a bid to find a bone marrow match.
Charlie’s parents Cliodhna and Fintan have been told by doctors to prepare their son for “the fight of his life”, having been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in January last year.
The toddler was confirmed to be in remission after a six-month course of treatment in Belfast, but earlier this year routine blood tests showed the disease had returned.
Charlie, whose uncle is former Apprentice star Jim Eastwood, has been described as “the most beautiful boy, the most intelligent wee fella”.
The family said the event at Holy Trinity College on March 22 aims not only to find Charlie a match but to raise awareness and bring forward more donors, whether for blood, bone marrow or stem cells.
“We’re appealing to the public to donate, not only for our son, but for the thousands of other children like him, who require a bone marrow transplant,” Cliodhna told the Mid Ulster Mail.
“I’m proud of Charlie for his efforts to help promote the recruitment drive; encouraging people throughout the wider community to donate bone marrow and blood, which is vitally important to save countless lives. The cure for cancer is in the public’s hands.”
His television star uncle Jim said the family was devastated when they learned of Charlie’s diagnosis.
He said: “Unfortunately cancer or ‘the big C’ seems to affect lots of families and lots of communities, and when it came into Charlie’s life, a wee boy, a wee baby, it was devastating for everyone obviously especially my sister Clidohna and her husband Fintan.”
He said the process of donating bone marrow is not as daunting as people may think.
“Although bone marrow sounds like a pretty invasive procedure it is actually quite a low level test that anyone can perform and there are home kits you can order online,” he said.
“The database for bone marrow is global, so if you do it, your match may not go directly to someone close to you, but just thinking of a two year old getting that, the most beautiful boy, the most intelligent wee fella, is amazing.
As a father himself, Jim said he was appealing to others to think of their own families and how much they would want help in a similar situation.
“I have two kids, a two year-old and one year-old and one on the way, not only is it family, not only is it Charlie who we dearly love, but people should stop and think.
“It is devastating and everyone has their challenges these days, but a wee two year old that we can do something to help, we want to call on people to go on to these websites and see if they meet the criteria and are able to donate bone marrow.”
To check whether you are eligible to donate visit www.anthonynolan.org (those aged 16-30) or www.deletebloodcancer.org (those aged 16-55) to complete an application form.