Hereford & Worcester

Stem cell match plea for boy with rare illness

Finley Hill Image copyright Jo and Paul Hill
Image caption Finley Hill has been diagnosed with an immune system disorder and needs a transplant

A school has pledged to do whatever it can to help a "delightful little boy" at the centre of a plea for a stem cell match.

Finley Hill, from Belbroughton, Worcestershire, has a rare and life-threatening immune system disorder and needs a transplant.

His mother says she is saddened to know there is a potential cure but one subject to finding a donor.

To that end, the seven-year-old's school is hosting a donor drive.

The hope is that among attendees at the two-day community event, a friend or stranger might hold the key to Finley's future.

Participants at Hagley Primary School in Stourbridge will undertake a cheek swab for analysis.

Head teacher Vanessa Payne said: "Finley is just such a delightful little boy, his family are amazing, we just want to do whatever we can."

In March, stem cell matches were found for another Worcestershire boy, five-year-old Oscar Saxelby-Lee, when thousands of people responded to a plea for potential donors.

Image copyright Paul and Jo Hill
Image caption A drive to find Finley a stem cell match is being held at his school

Finley has been diagnosed with Haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, or Familial HLH, where mutations affect the ability of white blood cells to clear infections.

He is kept stable with steroids and immuno-suppressants, but the only cure is chemotherapy and a transplant, his mother Jo Hill said.

Two percent of people in the UK are registered stem cell donors, with more than 2,000 people in need of a transplant every year.

Mrs Hill said she hoped the event would encourage more people to register.

"It saddens me that someone can have a diagnosis of a life-threatening condition, only to be told we do have a potential cure, and then to hear that they can't be cured because the match isn't there."

The event runs between 09:00 and 16:00 BST on Saturday and Sunday.

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