Emotional meeting for child cancer patient and bone marrow donor

The emotional first meeting of a child cancer patient and his life-saving donor has been captured on video.

Jack Withers was just 10 when was told he had six months to live, but a bone marrow donor from Germany came forward and saved his life.

Strict donation rules mean that donors and recipients cannot meet for a set amount of time, and both parties must request a meeting.

But now the restriction has lifted, blood cancer charity DKMS set up the emotional meeting at its fundraising gala in London.

Bone marrow donation
Bone marrow donation

Video shows Jack and his donor, Michael Merten, 27, embracing each other before Mr Merten is surrounded and hugged by members of Jack’s family.

In 2015, Jack, from Walsall near Birmingham, was diagnosed with a form of blood cancer called MDS at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Jack’s twin Emily had been diagnosed with the condition eight years previously.

Their mother, Jo Withers, said the news was “totally out of the blue” and that she never expected “lightening to strike twice”.

Fortunately for Emily, their twin’s older sister Lauren was a match and was able to give her a life-saving donation.

But Lauren was not a match for Jack, so a hunt for a donor was launched.

“We were told there and then that he would only have six months to live,” said Mrs Withers.

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

Mr Merten was found to be a match for Jack after searching the international database of donors.

He said: “When you think of what little it takes out of your body to save someone else’s life, then it’s easy and good to do.”

Mrs Withers encouraged people to sign up to the register, adding: “To see him [Jack] well, cured, sitting here, should be enough to make anybody think ‘we’ll get our self on that register’.”

Jack, now 13, added: “Do it because you’ll be helping lives like mine.”

For more information on joining the register visit: https://www.dkms.org.uk/en/register-now