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Appeal for bone-marrow donors to save three-year-old French boy

Joseph’s parents have taken to social media to appeal for donors who can help with the treatment of their son’s leukemia 

Joseph is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant if he is going to survive Pic: Terelyuk / Shutterstock

The parents of a three-year-old boy have launched a social media appeal for bone marrow donors who could contribute to the fight against their son’s leukemia.

Joseph’s “daily experience has been the hospital ever since the age of 17 months,” his mother Katinka Rambert-Cadré said. His chemotherapy treatment ended two weeks ago, and “We were hoping to return to a normal life on the last day. It was then that we discovered that he had relapsed.”

Each year, 1,300 new people need a bone marrow transplant, but have only a one in a million chance of finding a perfectly compatible donor, although among family members the probability rises to one in four.

France’s Agence de la biomédecine biomedical body has therefore been appealing for new donors since last year, in the hope of adding 20,000 people – and especially young men – to its register.

Currently, it has 330,000 people on its database.

You must be aged between 18 and 35 when you sign up, although you can continue to make donations until the age of 60, and be in very good health. The age limit for signing up had previously been 50.

It is also necessary to undertake a medical consultation to go through any previous health conditions and your current lifestyle.

“It really is important that everybody aged 18 to 35 takes action by signing up to to save all of these children. One child dying is one too many,” Ms Rambert-Cadré told BFMTV.

To become a potential donor, you have to volunteer and then you will receive a sampling kit by post. "It takes the equivalent of five minutes," says Dr Catherine Fucher, a haematologist at the Agency de la biomédecine.

“We must find a donor for my son: being afraid that your child will die is the worst thing that a parent can live through.” 

She added that in 80% of cases, donors need only give blood in order to help someone in need of a bone marrow transplant.

In France, people who spent over one year in total in the UK between January 1, 1980 and December 31, 1996 cannot give blood because of the outbreak of mad cow disease (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease) in the UK at the time.

However, these people can still donate their organs, and The Connexion has contacted the Agence de la biomédecine to determine whether this also applies to bone marrow.

You can find out more about becoming a bone marrow donor in France on this English-language information page.

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