Bone marrow donor found for girl(8), after #pantsonyourhead social media campaign
An eight-year-old girl whose parents’ plea for help in finding her find a life-saving bone marrow donor sparked an online campaign which saw a host of celebrities pose with pants on their heads has found a match.
Hollie Clark, who suffers from a rare bone marrow syndrome, inspired a global social media appeal in which her supporters posted selfies of themselves with underwear on their heads.
The youngster now has a matching donor which means she can start chemotherapy in preparation for a transplant later this month.
Hollie’s parents, Laura and Stephen, launched the #pantsonyourhead campaign after her uncle Matthew Clark put his underwear on his head to make her laugh while he was talking to her on FaceTime as she recovered from a series of blood transfusions in hospital.
They urged people to share a picture of themselves with their pants on their head while pledging to join blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan’s donor register.
Their campaign inspired an incredible response with the world’s most expensive footballer, Gareth Bale lending his support.
He was joined by other famous names including comedian Russell Howard, Wales rugby captain Sam Warburton, TV presenter Gethin Jones and EastEnders actor Richard Elis.
The appeal led to a 2,580 per cent increase in the number of people in Wales joining the Anthony Nolan register compared to the same period last year.
After waiting a gruelling three months, Hollie found out last week that a donor had been found.
Sharing the news on Hollie’s campaign Facebook page, Mrs Clark wrote: “We want to thank everyone who has got off their BOTT and helped us.
“There are literally too many to name, suffice to say, you know who you are and what you did Its hard to explain how we feel so we won't try, it would be messy.
“We take enormous strength and comfort from you all. We could not have started this journey without the response to this campaign. You all really did Help Hollie. You really did #putyourpantsonyourhead.”
She urged people to continue registering to help others like Hollie in need of a donor.
"Although we are full of happiness we still have a long way to go,” she wrote.
“We know there are many Mums and Dads looking out of a window right now. Looking and wondering if that special person will join a bone marrow register to save their child's life.
“Trust us, it's not a nice feeling. Trust us when we say, it's not a position you EVER want to be in. It is despair, fear and terror.
“Try & imagine just for a moment. Try and imagine looking for that one special person in the world who could save your child's life. It does not have to be like this. It could be different. It is simple, here is the solution, here is the secret. Register as a bone marrow donor and tell your friends to do the same.”
Mrs Clark added: “In a short time Anthony Nolan have become part of us. They were there for us and we SURE AS HELL will be there for them. We cannot and will not walk away from them.
“We will get Hollie fixed & be back to help soon. We will be returning the favour.
“Parents in a similar position, keep positive & stay strong.
“We will be there for you, that's a promise.”
Hollie, of Roath Park, Cardiff, was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a blood disorder which causes a drop in the number of healthy blood cells in the body, three months ago.
Mrs Clark, a GP, said: “It was an absolute shock, it is literally the worst thing as a parent you could be told.
“It was hard to believe because she’d been so active at the time, she loves swimming and cycling and playing with her friends, and she’d been doing all these things without us even knowing that her haemoglobin levels were dangerously low.”
After discovering her younger brother Sam was not a match, her parents decided to take action to find one as quickly as possible which led to the campaign.
In Cardiff, there was a 2,600 per cent increase in people joining the register and, in the UK as a whole, the figure was 170 per cent compared to the same time last year.
Karen Archer, regional register development manager at Anthony Nolan said: “We are absolutely delighted that a match has been found for Hollie and we wish her and all of her family the best of luck for the future.”
To sign up to the register visit www.anthonynolan.org/helphollie.