Park Runners

Article by Matthew Critchell: A family whose own son is recovering after a lifesaving stem cell donation now wants to help others.

A Be a Superhero campaign will be launched this Saturday, at Billericay Parkrun, Lake Meadows Park, Billericay from 8.30am. It is being held to raise awareness of blood disorder Aplastic anaemia.

Henry Walker, five, from Billericay, is battling the condition. His parents are drawing attention to the shortage of donors and there will be a free and painless stem cell and swab test opportunity at the event.

Henry’s condition meant he was no longer making any of his own blood cells, leaving him at high risk of severe infections, anaemia and bleeding. He became completely dependent upon blood and platelet transfusions.

Henry was admitted to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London for an operation to remove a severe fungal infection and the family were told that he needed an urgent stem cell donor - and he became one of the lucky ones.

Dad Gareth Walker, 36, said:

“The efforts of Henry’s friends and their parents to help raise awareness for what is a relatively unpublicised but extremely serious condition means so much to us, and we can’t thank them enough. Knowing that we have so much support from friends and family has been so important to Kate [his mother] and I during what has been and continues to be an extremely difficult time. The main thing though is awareness - we are desperate to make sure that people know how serious this condition is, and just how easy it is to donate stem cells. People need to know how much of a positive impact that this can have on the life of someone needing a stem cell transplant.”

Zoe Howe, 41 from Billericay organised the event. Her son, Zach, attends Quilters Infants School in Billericay with Henry. She said:

“Zach had lots of questions when his best mate didn’t come back to school last September. I tried to explain it in the simplest of terms and said Henry has poorly blood, and he needs someone else’s blood to make him better. He didn’t miss a beat and asked if he could donate his blood. That was my starting point really. I told him that unfortunately he couldn’t, but I can, and so can most of the other parents. I promised Zach that as parents we try to make things right for our children. I couldn’t fix this for him. I still can’t, he misses his friend incredibly. I couldn’t just sit by and do nothing.”

The run is open to all as are the swab tests.

Article by The Echo

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