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‘Heroes’ receive heartfelt Christmas wishes from stem cell recipients

Hundreds of families have sent anonymous cards to donors who have given their loved ones “the gift of life”.

Stem cell recipients and their families have sent hundreds of heartfelt festive wishes to their “heroes”.

While strict donation rules mean that families cannot directly contact donors for two years after a donation, hundreds have sent anonymous cards to donors who have given their loved ones “the gift of life”.

Blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan said it receives about 600 anonymous Christmas cards from stem cell, or bone marrow, recipients or their families to donors each year.

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One of the anonymous 'thank you' letters (Anthony Nolan/PA)

Anonymous letters, shared with the Press Association, show deep gratitude to donors from the parents of two young boys.

One, written to a donor from “the parents of the little boy you saved”, said: “Your gift saved the life of a little boy, but so much more, you saved the hearts of so many people who love that little boy.

“And you did save his life, as surely as if you had scooped him up off train tracks in the shadow of a speeding train.

“Our beautiful little boy is here, happy, healthy, a little brother, a cousin, a nephew, a friend, laughing, dancing, being silly – being alive. And we are forever indebted to you.

“As we tuck him into bed, his ‘I love you’ is now the second sweetest phrase ever, only second to the magical words of ‘we found a match’ – words you made possible.

“You are our hero.”

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'Thank you' from a young Star Wars fan (Anthony Nolan/PA)

The cards and letters are sorted by Adeline O’Keeffe in Anthony Nolan’s donor follow-up team.

Ms O’Keeffe said: “When you can speak to a recipient who wants to contact their donor you can hear in their voice how much it means to them.

“To the recipient, an anonymous person has genuinely saved their life and for them to be able to say thank you means the world to them.

“Hearing from parents whose children have received a stem cell transplant is always really special.”

Anthony Nolan, which uses its register to match potential stem cell donors to blood cancer and blood disorder patients in need of stem cell transplants, said that during the 2016/17 financial year it helped 1,300 people and 68,000 new people joined the register.

Richard Davidson, director of engagement at the charity, added: “Anthony Nolan carries out life-saving work every day and these letters give an insight into the impact our work can have on someone’s life.

“For 90% of donors, stem cell donation is a relatively simple process, a similar process to donating blood, but when you speak to a recipient who wants to contact their donor you can hear in their voice how much it means to them.

“To the recipient, an anonymous person has genuinely saved their life and for them to be able to say thank you means the world to them.

“Anyone wanting to support our work can visit our Christmas store to make a donation to support our work or purchase a Christmas gift for their loved ones.”

:: For more information visit: www.anthonynolan.org/Christmas.

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From Belfast Telegraph