Page last updated at 13:22 GMT, Saturday, 17 April 2010 14:22 UK

School donor clinic for leukaemia boy from Knowsley

Ben Shirley
Ben is currently in hospital fighting the disease

Hundreds of people have attended a clinic to find a suitable bone marrow match for a boy who has been diagnosed with leukaemia for a second time.

Ben Shirley, now aged nine, was five when he was first diagnosed. Despite recovering after three years of chemotherapy, he relapsed in January.

His school, Knowsley County Primary in Merseyside, opened its doors to anyone willing to donate on Saturday.

Norma Shirley, Ben's grandmother, said the turnout had been "overwhelming".

"I cannot believe how many people have come and are willing to donate to help save Ben.

He is so loving and thoughtful despite all that he is going through
Norma Shirley

"Obviously he comes top of our list, but we hope that donors for other sick people can also be found," she added.

Organised by Ben's family with the backing of the Anthony Nolan Trust, the clinic has already seen over 300 people provide saliva samples for testing to see if they are a suitable match.

Ben, who is currently in hospital, is having to have round-the-clock care as the cancer takes hold.

Mrs Shirley said: "He is so brave. I know we are all biased when it comes to our own, but he is such a happy-go-lucky boy and he has just got on with it.

"He is so loving and thoughtful despite all that he is going through. There was only once a couple of weeks ago when he was in a lot of pain did he say, 'Nan, why me?'."

Donors have to be aged between 18 and 40 to register with the Anthony Nolan Trust and they need to fill in a short medical questionnaire and provide a sample of saliva.

Karen Bonnell, regional donor recruitment manager from the charity, said there are at least 16,000 people across the world looking for a vital donor match at anyone time.

"It is very difficult finding a donor - there are only a few blood types but there are there are thousands upon thousands of different tissue types.

"By registering with the Anthony Nolan Trust you can help save lives."

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