UK Politics

Boy who was given six months to live meets man who saved him

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Three years after being given just six months to live, a child cancer patient has met the German bone marrow donor who stepped up and saved his life.

Jack Withers was just 10 when he was given the bleak news after being diagnosed with a form of blood cancer called MDS at Birmingham Children's Hospital in 2015.

His twin Emily had the same condition eight years prior, and fortunately older sister Lauren was a match and could provide a life-saving donation.

Image: Jack meets Michael at the gala
The pair embraced during a fundraising gala for a blood cancer charity in London

But she was not a match for her brother, meaning that the search for a suitable donor ended up going worldwide through an international database.

Mother Jo Withers said: "We were told there and then that he would only have six months to live.

"That was never an option in my head, I gave birth to three children and three children were here to stay."

Jack during his treatment
Image: Jack pictured during his treatment
Jack during his treatment

After scouring the list of names of those who had signed up to the donor register, Michael Merten was the individual who eventually came forward.

The treatment was a success – and Jack finally had the chance to say thanks in person after the expiration of a strict donation rule that disallows donors and recipients from meeting until a set period of time has passed.

Jack during his treatment
Image: Jack's family, from Walsall, are now appealing for more people to sign up to the register

Blood cancer charity DKMS has revealed that the pair met at its recent fundraising gala in London, with the two exchanging a hug before Mr Merten was surrounded and embraced by members of the Withers family.

Mr Merten, 27, said: "When you think of what little it takes out of your body to save someone else's life, then it's easy and a good thing to do."

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The family, from Walsall, are now appealing for more people to sign up to the register so that children like Jack – who is now 13 – can be saved.

For more information on how to join, visit dkms.org.uk/en/register-now.

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