The Newport six-year-old who 'needs a life saver'

Image source, Marrow For Marley
Image caption,
Marley Nicholls was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia in July

Marley Nicholls is just like any other six-year-old boy. He loves diggers, playing outside with his little brother and getting messy.

But the "life and soul of the party" needs help to survive.

Marley has a rare blood disease and "desperately" needs a bone marrow transplant.

Doctors initially did not know what was wrong with him when he went to A&E at his local hospital with a high temperature and "feeling sluggish".

After spending brother George's fourth birthday in hospital in Newport undergoing tests in July, at first doctors thought Marley may have had leukaemia.

But three weeks later, he was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia, which affects between 30 and 40 children each year in the UK and stops the body producing enough blood cells.

Marley now needs a bone marrow transplant to live.

Image source, Marrow For Marley
Image caption,
Marley's four-year-old brother George (right) was not a match for a bone marrow transplant

"To say it was a shock was an understatement," said mother Shaney Truman.

"The only way I can describe it is like someone dropping a grenade on our family.

"He's rarely ill, so when his temperature rocketed and he felt sluggish we were worried."

Image caption,
Parents Shaney Truman and Joe Nicholls are appealing for help finding a donor

She said: "He is such a lovely, friendly, happy soul - always the life and soul of the party - so we have now got to hope for a match.

"He's still a six-year-old boy who needs his mummy and daddy, and we're both trying to stay strong and do the everyday things."

In between being outside, getting "the messier, the better", and playing in the garden with the brother he adores, Marley has regular blood transfusions at Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales.

Their biggest hope of a suitable donor was Marley's brother, but George was found not to be a match.

Image source, Marrow for Marley

There are no matches on the donor register, but Ms Truman and her partner Joe hope as many people as possible sign up to the register as they search for a "life saver".

There are currently just under 700,000 registered donors in the UK, with about 20,000 of these coming from Wales.

According to the Anthony Nolan charity, 16% of donors are young men but they provide more than half of all donations.

It has already seen more than 5,000 applications to join the register since the family's appeal was launched in early August.

Regional manager Karen archer said: "In an ideal world, if we had every 16 to 30-year-old come along and join the register in the UK there would be a lot more matches found.

"People like Marley and the other many thousands of people waiting for their transplants need them to come forward and join."

The family also organised a testing event for people at the Beaufort Centre in St Julian's, Newport, on Sunday, where 336 people signed up to the register.

Marley's father, Joe Nicholls, said it was "heart-warming" to see so many people turn up.

"To know there are that many people out there that are willing to help and willing to do stuff to try and find our son a match is brilliant," he added.

Image caption,
People came and signed up to register at the event on Sunday

Ms Truman added: "We're looking for our minor miracle, but they do happen.

"If we can help save one person's life by encouraging more people to join the donor register, then that is a job well done.

"And if someone can help Marley, we'd be forever indebted to an absolute life saver."