1. ITV Report

Parents desperately search for stem cell donor for their 7-year-old son

7-year-old Finn has a rare immune disorder Credit: Jo Hill

The parents of a young boy with a life-threatening condition, say they're desperate for a stem cell donor to come forward. 7-year-old Finley Hill from Belbroughton in Warwickshire, has a rare immune system disorder which means he urgently needs a transplant. His mum and dad want more people to join the donor register.

Haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is an immune disorder where the body reacts inappropriately to a ‘trigger’ - usually an infection. White blood cells become over-activated, causing severe inflammation and damage to tissues such as the liver, spleen and bone marrow.

HLH is a rare disease and it can be difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms can mimic severe infection or other conditions.

Finn's parents say he now needs a stem cell transplant to save his life but there's a severe shortage of donors in the UK and matching donors and patients isn’t easy. Between 65-75% of those in need are unable to find a sibling match so rely on the generosity of strangers.

What does stem cell donation involve?

  • Firstly, you need to join the stem cell register. You can join online. Fill in the application form at the Anthony Nolan Trust or DKMS. You'll be sent a swab pack in the post.

  • If you're a match for someone, you can donate your stem cells in two ways: Nearly 90% of people donate their stem cells in a process called peripheral blood stem cell collection. The process involves having a course of injections prior to collection to stimulate the bone marrow and increase the number of stem cells and white blood cells in the blood. The other 10% donate through bone marrow, where they give cells from the bone marrow in their pelvis.

  • A courier will collect your cells and deliver them to the hospital where the recipient is waiting. They’ll usually give your stem cells to the recipient the same day or the day after you donate.