Record-Setting 5,000 People Stand in the Rain for Hours to See if They Are a Stem Cell Match for 5-Year-Old Battling Cancer

More than 5,000 people left the event organizers without breath, when they showed up, forming a line to see if they are eligible to be stem cell donors for a 5 year old who was fighting with cancer.

Oscar Saxelby-Lee is a 5 year old child diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer, this past December. He has a very rare and aggressive type of leukemia, which is causing his bone marrow to release immature white blood cells. This type of leukemia is known as T-cell acutate lymphoblastic leukemia, and his treatment required a stem cell transplant right away.

The primary school where Oscar studied in Worcester, England organized this event.

The school’s business manager, Sue Bladen reported for the NY Times:
“We decided that we will do whatever it takes to find the donor for Oscar!”

Oscar’s school and parents together, created a crowdfunding page this February, but they were able to raise $11,300. They raised more money than they ever imagined, and this was enough for them and even more than they requested.

When doctors said that Oscar needed a stem cell transplant, his parents and the school together organized this event, in order to find the match for him. Anybody between the age of 17 and 55 could’ve registered as a donor.

More than 200 volunteers were running this event, and they came from all across the country, only to help Oscar!

The first day of the event was Saturday, and during the first day more than 1,800 people showed up to register themselves as donors. But the next Sunday was something they never expected. More than 3,000 people showed up for Oscar, which set a world record for most volunteers as stem cell donors in the entire world!

Ms. Bladen said:

“Rain was pouring so heavily, but everyone gathered and formed a line, and nobody was even noticing the rain. The spirit we had at the event was simply incredible, and mostly the generosity of the people that showed up.”

Even after the event was closed, more than 1000 people registered themselves as potential donors online. Knowing this, around 6,000 people registered as potential donors for Oscar.

To determine whether someone is an eligible match for the stem cell transplant, it will take about six weeks.

The head of donor recruitment, Lisa Nugent said:

“It takes that long because it is very difficult to find if someone is an eligible match, because there are about 17,00 HLA characteristics that we need to look at.”



  1. Pat Enery June 5, 2019
  2. Martin June 8, 2019

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