Belfast Telegraph

Public flock to help brave Charlie: Almost 1,700 sign bone marrow register to find a match for little boy

BY CLAIRE WILLIAMSON

Little Charlie's family asked for your help – and you came in your hundreds.

This weekend nearly 1,700 people descended on two venues to help find a bone marrow match for three-year-old Charlie Craig and many more like him.

Charlie has been battling myeloid leukaemia since January 2013 and requires immediate intensive chemotherapy and a life-saving bone marrow transplant.

Urgent donation drives were held in Belfast's Whitla Hall at Methodist College and in Holy Trinity College in Cookstown to find a life-saving match in partnership with Delete Blood Cancer.

And the response was huge.

Over £15,000 was raised across the two venues – the third highest amount to be raised in one day across the UK.

Spirits were high as volunteers, family, friends and supporters arrived in their droves in a bid to help Charlie and others.

Among those in attendance was Charlie's sister Nancy (2) along with their grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.

Charlie is the nephew of BBC Apprentice star Jim Eastwood.

Jim told the Belfast Telegraph: "The support for Charlie Craig and his family has been phenomenal.

"It's really captured the imagination of not only the Northern Irish public but in many respects the world because we have all got such a far reach now through Facebook and Twitter and the internet.

"People from all over are extending their thoughts and prayers and obviously here in Cookstown at Holy Trinity College they are coming in their hundreds to donate money and to donate to see if they fit on to the bone marrow register and just show support."

He continued: "Someone mentioned to me 'what if it was your own – you would just hope that everybody would rally around you'."

Charlie's grandfather Des added: "Charlie Craig may not benefit from today but hopefully there will be others who will.

"The more people on the database the greater the chances that someone will get a match."

Linda Mullan (47) from Dungannon was one of hundreds who came to Cookstown to be tested.

She said: "My sister in law passed away with leukaemia so I am here to help anybody I can and, of course, for little Charlie."

For details, search for Charlie Craig's Bone Marrow Donate Now Campaign Group on Facebook.

BACKGROUND

Charlie Craig from Lisburn has been battling myeloid leukaemia since January 2013 – a disease especially rare in children. The three-year-old was declared in remission after six months of treatment at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. But after blood tests at the start of this year his parents Fintan and Cliodhna were told his disease had returned. He requires chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. On Saturday 1,684 people signed the bone marrow register.

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