Banbury businessman appeals to mixed race residents to become lifesaving stem cell donors

Banbury businessman John Hones got Google to help find volunteers to help leukaemia sufferer, Tommy (pictured on the screen) From the left, John Hones, daughter, Milly, partner, Nick and baby Mia. NNL-160329-183623009
Banbury businessman John Hones got Google to help find volunteers to help leukaemia sufferer, Tommy (pictured on the screen) From the left, John Hones, daughter, Milly, partner, Nick and baby Mia. NNL-160329-183623009

A Banbury businessman has won a $120,000 commitment from Google in his bid to help find stem cell donors for mixed-race leukaemia victims.

John Hones, managing director of 8Digital, says Banbury has a large and growing number of mixed race people and he has put out an appeal to them to go through an easy saliva test to see if they could help save another’s life.

Mr Hones, who lives in Banbury and is married to Nick and has two daughters, said he was moved to promote the cause after hearing about four-year-old Anglo-Caribbean boy Tommy Simpson – son of a London firefighter – who is in hospital fighting myeloid leukaemia.

“I was recently sent some information on the Match4Tommy campaign which is raising awareness about Tommy, who has less than a 20 per cent chance of finding a donor because of his mixed race heritage.

“In January he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia after being admitted to Great Ormond Street hospital a few days before Christmas. He has been there ever since.

“I am mixed race and know there are a lot of mixed race people in Banbury who could be affected. I wasn’t aware of how complex finding a suitable donor is.”

Mr Hones called the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) which is heading up the campaign and volunteered 8-Digital’s online marketing services to raise awareness about the need for volunteers.

“As we are an official Google partner I decided to give them a call to see if they would help and they have confirmed they have agreed to contribute up to $120,000 (£85,000) in aid grants to help promote the cause.

“We’re also running ad campaigns on Facebook and Instagram and using our digital expertise to get the message out via other online networks.”

Tommy’s parents have launched an urgent appeal to find Tommy a potential lifesaving stem cell donor to save his life.

Tommy’s mixed heritage makes it extremely hard to find a donor as matching stem cell tissue types are inherited.

Mixed race people like Tommy have less than a 20 per cent chance of finding an unrelated match, as do individuals who are black or from a minority ethnic background. Only three per cent of donors on the UK stem cell register are mixed race, making Tommy’s chances of finding an unrelated donor extremely difficult. He is an only child.

Extended family members were tested but a suitable match was not found. For more information on the #Match4Tommy or becoming a donor call ACLT on 020 3757 7700 or visit aclt.org.