'You're the superhero, Leland': Ryan Reynolds sends video to Gateshead six-year-old with cancer

Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds has sent a six-year-old boy with pre-leukemia a video message after he had a stem cell transplant.

Leland, from Gateshead, originally received a message from the American actor in October 2022, when he was looking for a stem cell donor.

Since then, it appears the pair have struck up a budding friendship.

In the latest video, sent on Leland's first day of chemotherapy, the Deadpool star said: "I'm thinking about you and I'm blown away by you and how brave you are.

"I'm rooting for you, everyone's rooting for you, and we love you. I play a superhero in movies and that's all great and everything, but you're the superhero in real life, Leland. That's a fact."

Within days of the actor sending his first message to Leland, there was a surge in sign-ups to the stem cell donor register.

A month later, Leland's mother Sarah announced a donor for her son had been found.

In January 2023, Leland had his transplant at the Great North Children's Hospital in Newcastle and is currently in a tight-knit medical isolation "bubble" in the hospital.

Speaking from hospital, Leland said he was "good but a bit poorly". He is looking forward to getting better and playing football and going to school again.

Mum Sarah said: "He's doing really well. The transplant and chemo went to plan. We've had a rough couple of days - we've had to have a blood transfusion. This is a price to pay for a lifetime of being cured from this horrible disease."

Messages of support have been sent from some other famous faces, including footballer and Jill Scott.

She said: "Everybody is behind you with this battle and keep smiling."

What is the stem cell register?

The stem cell register is essentially a list of people who have volunteered to donate their stem cells to a genetic match.

For someone with blood cancer or a blood disorder, such as leukemia, a stem cell transplant could be their best chance of survival.

People can sign up to the register through the charities Anthony Nolan or DKMS.

Leland's story gained traction after Blyth Spartans player JJ O'Donnell shared it online ahead of their FA cup qualifier game against Wrexham FC.

The co-owners of Wrexham FC are Mr Reynolds and his friend and fellow actor Rob McElhenney.

Mr McElhenney saw Mr O'Donnell's post and showed it to Mr Reynolds, who then Leland a message of support, and invited him to be a VIP at the game.

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