Dec 5 2012 by Lorna Hughes, Birkenhead News
COLLEGE friends of a young Wirral woman with leukaemia answered her plea for help by smashing a charity’s record for bone marrow donors.
More than 270 students and staff at Reaseheath College in Cheshire signed up to the bone marrow register to show their support for equine student Hannah Roberts, from West Kirby.
Hannah, now 21, was diagnosed with myelodysplasia, which usually affects only the elderly, two years ago.
After chemotherapy and a failed bone marrow transplant in the summer, she is currently in the Royal Liverpool Hospital after her second bone marrow transplant two weeks ago.
The “Hannah’s Drive” day last Wednesday put 276 potential donors from Reaseheath on to the UK bone marrow register – beating the Anthony Nolan charity’s previous record of 188 at a college on a single day.
Hannah’s stem cell graft was found in Germany after a worldwide search – and her dad Ken said she wanted to urge more people to sign up to the UK register.
He said: “All Hannah wants to do is raise awareness. Hopefully she’s going to be OK and won’t need another transplant, but there are people dying every day because there are no donors out there.
“We were told she needed a transplant in October last year then we just waited and waited. Hannah is an inspiration and she’s very positive about when she’ll get well. She couldn’t go through this if she wasn’t.
“Each one of the donors from the college could save a life.”
Ken works at Specsavers in Birkenhead as a contact lens specialist and colleagues at the store have raised £3,000 for Anthony Nolan.
Hannah, a former West Kirby Grammar School student, had to put her equine science degree studies on hold because of her illness but she is determined to forge a career as an equine insurance loss adjustor.
She sent a message from her hospital bed urging Reaseheath students to sign up to the bone marrow register, telling them: “You may not be called at all. But if you are asked to donate, you have the chance to be someone’s hero.”
Her brother Keir, 19, and sister Fliss, 23, attended the Hannah’s Drive event and supported students as they queued to give a sample of saliva.
Her tutor Dr Jan Birch played a key role in organising the campaign.
Keir said: “It’s very hard seeing your sister going through such a lot of treatment, particularly when it fails.
“It can take months to check for a match so the more donors there are on the list, the better.”
Fliss added: “I thought a lot of students would hesitate, but everyone has been very enthusiastic.”
Student welfare officer Kate Lomas said: “I am so proud of every student and staff member who donated.
“I am also very grateful to the Students Association for being on duty all day and to the Anthony Nolan volunteers who did such a wonderful job.”
To sign up to the bone marrow register visit www.blood.uk or www.anthonynolan.org