Father’s bid to find stem cell match as charity sees decline in potential donors

·3-min read
DKMS blood cancer patient Peter McCleave (DKMS/PA)
DKMS blood cancer patient Peter McCleave (DKMS/PA)

A father of two has implored people to become potential stem cell donors as his deadline for finding a donor approaches.

Peter McCleave was diagnosed with myeloma, a type of blood cancer, in 2017 and told that he has seven years to find a match for a lifesaving stem cell donation.

But after a four-year global search, the 43-year-old is yet to find a donor.

As the deadline approaches, Mr McCleave has encouraged people to register with the international blood cancer charity DKMS.

Blood cancer patient Peter McCleave with his wife Jenny and sons Seb and Max (DKMS/PA)
Blood cancer patient Peter McCleave with his wife Jenny and sons Seb and Max (DKMS/PA)

The charity said that since the pandemic started it has seen a “sharp decline” in the number of new people signing up to its register.

Jonathan Pearce chief executive of DKMS UK, said: “We need more people to come forward to become blood stem cell donors.

“We have witnessed a sharp decline in registrations since the pandemic started.

“The more people we have on the register, the more chance there is that a donor could be a potential lifesaver for someone with blood cancer.

“You’ve got it in you to make a difference this Blood Cancer Awareness Month. You can support Peter, and others like him, by simply registering with DKMS for your home swab kit.”

DKMS said that Mr McCleave, from Cheshire is planning to take part in a wing-walk on Saturday to raise awareness for the 2,000 people each year who need to find a blood stem cell donor.

Mr McCleave, who used to work in investment banking, told the PA news agency: “I completed Ironman Wales September 2016 and two days after the race, ended up in hospital with pneumonia, sepsis and Legionnaires’ disease.

“Subsequent follow-up doctors’ appointments tracked my recovery, which was not going to plan, this led to a diagnosis of myeloma four months later and a prognosis of seven years.

“I have been on chemo ever since and have had a stem cell transplant using my own cells. But if I can find a donor, the seven-year prognosis can optimistically be extended.”

The father of two boys, eight-year-old Seb and 11-year-old Max, added: “Because my family heritage of Chinese Portuguese, Irish and English is a very rare blend, it is more difficult to find a match.

“Anyone of a minority ethnic background will find it more difficult, because there are fewer ethnic minority groups represented on the register.

“A lack of diversity underpins much of the work I do with DKMS.”

On the wing-walk, he added: “We need to engage more people to register and this is a great way to capture people’s imaginations and make them aware of how they can save a life today through a simple cheek swab.”

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