British schoolgirl, 17, becomes world's youngest stem cell donor to a non-relative

Victoria Rathmill, 17, became the youngest donor in October. Credit: Antony Nolan

A British schoolgirl has become the world's youngest stem cell donor to someone who was not a relative.

Victoria Rathmill, 17, became the youngest donor in October after she was found to be a match to a patient suffering from blood cancer.

The A-level pupil, from Macclesfield, Cheshire, signed up to the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register in February when she was just 16.

In just a few months she was identified as a match to a patient and made a donation at the London Clinic last month.

The charity's bone marrow register is just one of two in the world that accept under-18 donors.

The pupil joined the register after a family friend was diagnosed with leukaemia.

"At first I was like: 'I'll join when I'm 18, I'm not going to make any difference', but then a friend of our family got ill and so I felt the need to join up," said the All Hallows Catholic College student.

"It was only a couple of weeks after I signed up that I told my mum. Anthony Nolan sent the spit kit out to me and she asked me what it was. Though she was taken aback a bit at first, she thought it was a nice thing to do, especially given our friend's experience.

"After I signed up I just stopped thinking about it really. You just don't expect to get the phone call within six months of registering.

"It's quite shocking to think I'm the youngest-ever - you're never the first to do anything nowadays, it's all been done already."

Victoria's mother described her daughter as "headstrong and determined." Credit: Anthony Nolan group

Speaking about the donation process, she added: "It's just like giving blood really. I would do it again because it's not that difficult. It's just a couple of days out of your life to save somebody else's - and I got a free trip to London."

The teenager's mother Paula Rathmill said: "Victoria's always been headstrong and determined but it never really occurred to me to try and stop her from helping another person in their hour of need. It makes me very proud."

"It's quite shocking to think I'm the youngest ever," Victoria said. Credit: Anthony Nolan group

Anthony Nolan chief executive Henny Braund added: "Victoria's historic donation is genuinely impressive.

"It shows both what a special young woman she is, and how teenagers can be sufficiently mature, caring and engaged with the world around them to help save an unwell stranger."