Paper sets up of?ce clinic in donor hunt

Journalists at the Daventry Express turned their of?ce into a hospital clinic as part of the paper’s campaign to ?nd a bone-marrow donor for a sick toddler.

Editor David Granger decided to go a stage further than just reporting the news after being contacted by the mother of 22-month-old Callum Hill.

Callum has been given four months to live after contracting a rare form of cancer called Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia. His only chance of survival is ?nding a bone-marrow donor whose spinal stem cells are identical to his own. Granger said: “The reporter who went to seen Callum’s mother was quite moved by the whole thing. We thought, rather than just report it, we would try to push people into becoming potential donors.”

The newspaper published a front-page story and invited readers to ?ll in a coupon and volunteer themselves as bone marrow donors. Nearly 500 responded, out of which 200 ful?lled the age criteria.

Staff cleared out the desks from the advertising department, turning it into a makeshift clinic. With the help of eight nurses they took blood samples from all the volunteers over a period of two days.

One of the donors was an actor from BBC drama Casualty, who walked into the front of?ce to see if the paper would do a story about him. He got more than he bargained for and was persuaded to get involved in the appeal.

It will take eight weeks to test all the blood samples which may be too late to help Callum.

Details from all the donors will go on to a database, meaning they could be called upon to help a cancer sufferer anywhere in the world.

Granger said the generosity of readers was all the more impressive considering the fact that donating bone marrow involves undergoing a fairly complicated medical procedure. He said: “Everyone in the of?ce became involved and the response from the public has been amazing. We have never had a response this big for anything before. I didn’t want to put any pressure on staff whatsoever to become donors, but I think about 90 per cent of us have decided to sign up for it.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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