Thousands come forward to see if they are stem cell match for five-year-old with leukaemia

Will Metcalfe
More than 4,500 people have turned out to see if they are a stem-cell match for five-year-old Oscar Saxelby-Lee who is being treated for a rare form of leukemia. (SWNS)

A record-breaking 4,855 people queued for hours in the rain to get tested to see if they were a match to help save a five-year-old boy fighting a rare cancer.

The potential donors volunteered to help brave Oscar Saxelby-Lee following a desperate plea from his parents.

The youngster is in a race against time to find a life-saving stem cell donor after he was diagnosed with rare cancer.

His parents became concerned when severe bruising turned out to be T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL).

There are three months for a matching donor to be found – and more than 4,800 people turned out to be tested at the weekend. (SWNS)
The queue as more than 4,800 people turned out to see if they were a stem cell match for five-year-old Oscar. (SWNS)

Doctors say he now has just three months to find a stem-cell match which could save his life.

Over 4,800 donors queued up to get tested after Pitmaston Primary School, in Worcester, opened their doors for a donor search over the weekend.

His 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.”

Oscar is still smiling despite being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. (SWNS)
Family and friends of the five-year-old described him as ‘happy go lucky’. (SWNS)

Oscar’s teaching assistant Laura Senter, 22, said his diagnosis came as a shock to their class.

She added: “I couldn’t believe it. 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.”

Oscar’s family have shared images of the brave five-year-old in hospital as a search for a stem cell match continues. (SWNS)


DKMS, the charity that tests the swabs, said its record for the highest number of people to take part in a registration event is 2,200 people.

Oscar was diagnosed with the aggressive form of leukaemia after bruising turned out to be cancer on December 28 last year.

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His desperate parents Olivia Saxelby and Jamie Lee, of St Johns, Worcester, launched an appeal to find a match after his diagnosis.

They aimed to get as many people as possible to sign up to a blood stem cell donor register as part of a campaign called ‘Hand in Hand for Oscar’.

Olivia, 23, 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.”

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