Cheshire teenager, 17, is 'world's youngest stem cell donor'

Paula and Victoria Rathmill
Image caption Victoria Rathmill (r) signed up to the bone marrow register without her mother Paula Rathmill (l) knowing

A schoolgirl has become the youngest person to donate stem cells to a non-relative, according to the bone marrow register.

Victoria Rathmill, 17, donated after she was found to be a match to a patient suffering from blood cancer.

Victoria, from Macclesfield, Cheshire, joined the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register in February after a family friend was diagnosed with leukaemia.

A match was found and the procedure was then carried out at the London Clinic.

An Anthony Nolan spokesperson said Victoria's donation made her the youngest person to provide stem cells to a non-relative.

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

'Like giving blood'

Ms Rathmill said: "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.

"It was only a couple of weeks after I signed up that I told my mum. 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. You just don't expect to get the phone call within six months of registering".

Donations involve collecting blood from a vein or aspirating bone marrow from the pelvis using a needle and syringe.

Speaking about the donation process, she said: "It's just like giving blood. 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."

Paula Rathmill, the teenager's mother, 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.

"I didn't want her to feel bad if it doesn't work out for the patient, which it might not. But she's level-headed and after having gone through the donation process, she knows she couldn't have done any more."

There are currently about 1,600 people in the UK waiting for a bone-marrow transplant and 37,000 worldwide.

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