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Donor gives Bill hope he will see his sons grow up


Bill Quigley (39) has leukaemia and can now have a potentially life-saving bone marrow transplant

Bill Quigley (39) has leukaemia and can now have a potentially life-saving bone marrow transplant

Martin McKeown

Bill Quigley (39) has leukaemia and can now have a potentially life-saving bone marrow transplant

A father-of-two who was given just months to live has been given the chance to see his young sons grow up after a secret donor came forward.

Bill Quigley (39) and his family were devastated when he was diagnosed with leukaemia last September, but their hopes rose when tests showed that his sister’s bone marrow was a perfect match.

However, in a cruel twist it transpired that Alison had skin cancer, which meant the transplant could not go ahead.

While Alison went through an operation to remove a cancerous lesion on her leg, Bill was left dependent on a match being found between him and a total stranger.

As half of those waiting on a transplant die before ever undergoing surgery, the Londonderry family made a heartfelt appeal through the media for people from all over Northern Ireland to get tested and get on the bone marrow register.

And last Thursday Bill received the call he and his family had hoped and prayed would come when a doctor from St James' Hospital in Dublin said “we have found a donor”— words Bill says reduced him to tears.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he said: “For nine months I have tried to stay strong, both mentally and physically, but when I got that call the floodgates opened and nine months worth of tears came out, and then when I told my mother we both cried.

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“I was diagnosed last September and initially the doctors thought I wouldn't make it much past Christmas, and it’s been hard going since then between one thing and another ... but now this news is like a dream come true.

“I know this is just the beginning of a long journey, but at least now I am on that journey.”

Although Bill knows a donor has been found and that they are willing to go ahead with the operation, that's the extent of his knowledge as all information remains confidential.

Bill will, however, have the opportunity to write a letter to his donor if he wishes, something he is more than keen to do.

He added: “I don't know anything about this person, whether they are male or female or even if they are Irish, but they will have my gratitude for ever, not just for what they have given me but for the first time in nine months I can think about the future with my two sons, Bill and Kieran.

“I would obviously encourage everybody to get tested for the bone marrow transplant.”


People across Northern Ireland have been urged to sign up to take part in the Belfast Telegraph Donor Run. The event, which takes place in Ormeau Park, Belfast, on August 6, offers people the opportunity to support Transplant Sport UK (TSUK). Sign up now at www.niathletics.org.