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Last Updated: Monday, 12 July, 2004, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Brothers find life-saving donors
Nathan, Allison and Luke Hartley (l-r)
Nathan and Luke Hartley have been hoping for a donor since last year
The parents of four boys with a life-threatening illness are celebrating finding donors for their last two sons.

David and Allison Hartley have been searching for bone marrow donors for their sons since November last year.

Josh, 12, Nathan, 10, Daniel, eight, and Luke Hartley, four, from Romsey in Hampshire, have a genetic disorder which attacks the immune system.

A potential donor for Nathan and Luke was confirmed on Friday after donors were earlier found for their brothers.

Mr Hartley said: "We now have a confirmed match for my last two boys.

"That's extremely good news. It takes a lot of pressure off us.

We are so happy - but we know there's still thousands of people out there waiting for bone marrow
David Hartley, father

"It's what we were waiting for - that phone to ring with confirmation that there's some stranger out there who's been found to be a match for one of our sons to save his life.

"It's even better - this person is a potential match for both our sons."

Thousands of people contacted the Anthony Nolan Trust to volunteer as donors for the boys - who have X-linked lymphoproliferative disease (XLP) - after appeals on the BBC and other media.

Doctors have yet to decide whether Nathan, who will be first to undergo a transplant, will then donate to his younger brother, or the donor will be contacted again to donate for Luke.

Mr Hartley said: "Luke doesn't really have an understanding of it, but Nathan has been beaming for the last two days.

Joshua having his transplant transfusion in Great Ormond Street hospital
Josh has recently had a transplant of his mother's bone marrow

"He understands the severity of what they are facing and that now there is a potential cure.

"He's more concerned about being a potential donor for Luke though."

The Hartleys' oldest son Josh is currently recovering in Great Ormond Street Hospital in London after a successful transplant of his mother's bone marrow last month.

He is now expected to make a full recovery from XLP.

In April a potential match was found for his eight-year-old brother Daniel, who is waiting until his brother recovers before having his transplant.

Prayers answered

Mr Hartley said: "All the signs are very good now, but it's obviously very worrying when you see your son being sick regularly, his appetite had started to come back and then disappeared.

"He was sleeping 18 hours a day last week."

He added: "We are so happy - it's the answer to our prayers that we have got to this stage - but we know there's still thousands of people out there waiting for bone marrow and we really encourage people to join the Anthony Nolan Trust register.

"It's the best thing they can do to save lives."

Children with XLP, which attacks the immune system, do not usually live past their teens.

The condition is one of the rarest genetic illnesses in the world, with only 100 sufferers diagnosed so far.

Those interested in joining the register should call 0901 88 22 234 or visit the trust's website. Calls cost 25p a minute.



The BBC's Annita McVeigh
"Without a full transplant, sufferers rarely survive beyond their teens"

Mother donates bone marrow to son
09 Jun 04  |  Hampshire/Dorset
Hartley boy ready for transplant
27 May 04  |  Hampshire/Dorset
Mother's transplant may save child
20 May 04  |  Hampshire/Dorset
Donor is found for second brother
24 Apr 04  |  Hampshire/Dorset
Thousands pledge to help brothers
12 Mar 04  |  Hampshire/Dorset
Brothers seek life-saving donors
04 Mar 04  |  Hampshire/Dorset

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