A FAMILY whose lives were "thrown out of balance" by their eight-year-old's cancer diagnosis are seeking a stem cell donor in a bid to save his life.
Little Bobby Browne was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in May 2022.
ALL, a type of fast-developing blood cancer, causes immature white cells to clog bone marrow, stopping it from creating healthy blood cells.
Prior to his illness, Bobby was an active boy who loved swimming and football, and is a massive Manchester United fan.
After chemotherapy failed, the youngster underwent innovative CAR-T therapy in Newcastle last November, which involves taking a patient's T-cells and genetically modifying them to find and kill cancer.
However, in February 2023, his family was told the therapy had failed and a stem cell transplant was the only chance of a cure.
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Bobby, from County Armagh in Northern Ireland, is in isolation due to his weakened immune system and is unable to go to school or see friends.
His older sister Melissa said: "Finding out Bobby has blood cancer has thrown our world out of balance.
"We were so happy that the CAR-T treatment had worked initially, but hearing that it had left Bobby's body too early was devastating."
Bobby's family is now working with blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan on the Bobby Needs A Hero campaign to encourage people to sign up to the stem cell donor register.
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Melissa said: "No one deserves this, especially not an eight-year-old.
"If you're able to sign up, please consider becoming a stem cell donor to give people like Bobby a second chance.
"If you have the opportunity to potentially save a life, take it."
Speaking to Armagh I, Bobby's dad Danny added: "When you have a child of eight going to bed crying and you asking, ‘What’s wrong son?’ Eventually getting it out of him – ‘Daddy, I’m afraid of the doctors telling me I’m going to die’.
"A child at eight shouldn’t have those thoughts in his head.
"He should be thinking of his wee football match that day, or playing with his friends that day, or what he did in school.
"But that’s what we’re living with at the minute and the hell of it, it’s just tough.
"We don’t know where [the donor] is going to come from but we need to find one – no matter whereabouts in the world you are, please register.
"It’s not only about saving Bobby’s life, it could save some other child’s life too."
Henny Braund, chief executive of Anthony Nolan, said: "Finding Bobby a donor would be life-changing for him and his family.
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"We are committed to supporting them as they wait for news of a donor who could save his life.
"If you're aged 16 to 30, in good health, you could give hope to someone like Bobby by joining the Anthony Nolan register today."
How to sign up to be a donor
ANYONE aged 16 to 30 can sign up to the Anthony Nolan database, while those aged between 17 and 55 years can sign up to DKMS.
In both cases, you simply swab a cheek and send it back in a pre-paid envelope.
If you are a match for someone with a blood cancer or blood disorder, you could help save their life by donating your stem cells.
There are two ways you could be asked to donate:
- Via the bloodstream (which happens in 90 per cent of cases)
- Through bone marrow (how 10 per cent of people donate)
Your donation will be completely anonymous.
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