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Health News

Cancer sufferer Alice's bone marrow donor wish is fulfilled

"To stay in a caravan. To meet Take That. To go to Cadbury World and eat loads of chocolate." When 16-year-old and terminally ill Alice Pyne from Cumbria, published a "bucket list" on line almost six months ago, it caught the nation's attention, and almost all her wishes came true overnight.

Alice suffers from Hodgkin's lymphoma and her prognosis is poor. The phrase comes from the 2008 film The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, in which two ageing men embark on a road trip to complete a list of things they want to do before they die.

At the very top of Alice's list however was a request rather trickier to fulfil: "To make everyone sign up to be a bone marrow donor." But the request sparked a campaign by bone marrow donation charity Anthony Nolan Trust, who have reported an extraordinary rise in donors after Alice brought the matter to the public's attention.

The trust launched a campaign to add more than 10,000 young men on to their register of blood stem cell donors. Males aged 18 to 30 are by far the best donors. Among many notable people to back the campaign, writer and broadcaster Charlie Brooker took to YouTube in typically curmudgeonly fashion, encouraging that most idly perceived of demographics to send back in the saliva samples and join the donor database.

Some 30,000 people were approved to join the database, almost double the normal number. But crucially, almost 40 per cent were 18 to 30 year old males, much to the delight of Charlie Brooker, who registered himself.

"Great news – by doing something as simple and indeed cathartic as spitting into a cup, young men, who generally get a bad rep, can help save lives," he said. "Alice seems to be a remarkable character. I'm bad-tempered even when I have nothing worse to complain about than a stubbed toe. I'll moan the house down in those circumstances. She's facing a difficult situation with a combination of pragmatism and optimism which has clearly moved people in a good way."

Rebecca Sedgwick, national recruitment manager for Anthony Nolan, said, "We've had a fantastic response to our campaign to get more young men on the register and have exceeded our target."

Those interested in registering, donating money, or both, can do so at: anthonynolan.org