German stranger saves the life of boy, 6, with leukaemia by joining stem cell register

Alfie Commons

A mum has told ITV Central she's 'eternally grateful' to a woman on the stem cell register who saved her six-year-old son's life.

At just seven months old, Alfie Commons was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia.

Alfie, from Sawley in Derbyshire, underwent chemotherapy but doctors told his family his only chance of survival would be a bone marrow transplant.

Alfie was diagnosed with leukaemia when he was seven months old

Alfie‘s parents and his brother Billy were not a stem cell match so an international search began to find a suitable donor.

Two months later, their prayers were answered in the form of a stranger, a German woman called Christin Bouvier.

Alfie in hospital

Fortunately, Christin had signed up to the stem cell register, a simple process and a simple act of kindness that saved Alfie’s life.

Alfie and his mother Lorna had the opportunity to meet Christin when he was four, to thank her personally. Lorna says she’s eternally grateful and without her, the outcome could have been very different.

'No doubt about it, if it wasn't for her, if it wasn't for what she did, Alfie wouldn't be here.'

Lorna said:"No doubt about it, if it wasn't for her, if it wasn't for what she did, Alfie wouldn't be here.

"It's a really, really easy process and I think what breaks my heart, is that we were so lucky, our match was there, she was signed up, she was waiting, she was ready to go out there and save Alfie's life.

"But while we've gone through this process, I've seen and met and heard of so many people that are in a similar situation and there's no match."

Alfie and his mum two years ago

She is now urging people to join the stem cell register.

According to the blood cancer charity DKMS, registrations this year have dropped by 63% compared to 2020, when the Covid pandemic began.

Only 1 in 4 people with blood cancer (and in need of a transplant) will find a matching blood stem cell donor within their own family.

This means those in need of a blood stem cell transplant depend on the kindness of a stranger like Christin.

'People are having to worry about other things and things like this may not be front of mind.'

What is acute lymphoblastic leukaemia?

  • Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia affects a person's white blood cells and requires immediate treatment.

  • It is rare, with around 790 people diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK, mostly in children, teenagers and young adults.

  • Around 85% of the cases that affect children happen in those younger than 15 (mostly between the ages of 0 and 5). 

For advice and support:

Leukaemia Care

Macmillan Cancer Support

Cancer Research