Five-year-old with leukaemia has found a stem-cell donor

It’s a match! Five-year-old who won the nation’s heart in his battle against leukaemia has found a stem-cell donor after a record-breaking 10,000 people came forward

  • Oscar Saxelby-Lee was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia last year
  • Parents Olivia Saxelby and Jamie Lee launched a desperate appeal for donors
  • Miss Saxelby confirmed on Facebook today three people proved to be a match 
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A five-year-old boy who won the nation’s heart in his battle against a rare cancer has found a stem cell match after a record-breaking 10,000 donors came forward.

Oscar Saxelby-Lee, of St John’s, Worcester, was diagnosed with the aggressive blood cancer acute lymphoblastic leukaemia on December 28 last year after his parents noticed unusual bruising on his legs.

With just months to find a match, his parents Olivia Saxelby, 23, and Jamie Lee, 26, desperately launched an appeal that led to the public queuing for hours in the rain to get tested. 

Miss Saxelby confirmed on her son’s Facebook page today that three people proved to be a match for the youngster, which dramatically increases his chances of surviving.

Oscar – nicknamed Bear by his parents – is undergoing chemotherapy at Birmingham Children’s Hospital while he awaits an imminent stem cell transplant.

Oscar Saxelby-Lee – who won the nation’s heart in his battle against a rare cancer – has found a stem cell match after a record-breaking 10,000 donors came forward. The youngster is pictured at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where he is having chemotherapy

Pictured are some of the 4,855 people who queued for hours in the rain to get tested after Oscar’s headteacher held an open day at Pitmaston Primary School, Worcester. Three of the 10,000 who were tested overall turned out be a match, raising the chance Oscar will live

Oscar’s parents Olivia and Jamie (pictured celebrating their son’s fifth birthday last month in hospital) announced on Facebook today they have ‘the best news! Oscar has a match!!!’

Writing on the Hand in Hand for Oscar Facebook page, Miss Saxelby said: ‘We have the best news to share! Oscar has a match!!!!

‘Absolutely thrilled to announce Oscar has finally got a stem cell match, not just one but three and will be undergoing transplant very soon!!

‘What an emotional rollercoaster it’s literally been a journey of heartache and dread continuously, but..WOW!!! 

‘What a feeling of relief and positivity to help Oscar kick cancer’s butt!!

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‘It’s been so so traumatic but we are over the moon with being given a chance to tackle the next step in treatment.’

She then proceeded to express her gratitude to those who have supported her family. 


Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is a type of blood cancer that starts from young white blood cells in the bone marrow.

There are around 810 new cases in the UK every year. In the US, ALL affects approximately 1.7 adults per 100,000. 

Anyone can develop ALL, however, it mainly affects younger people.

Many ALL symptoms are vague and flu-like, such as: 

  • General weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Frequent infections
  • Bruising or bleeding easily, including nosebleeds, heavy periods and blood in the urine or faeces
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bone or joint pain 
  • Breathlessness
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Feeling full
  • Paler skin than normal

Risks for developing ALL include exposure to radiation, smoking, being overweight and having a weak immune system.

Research suggests being breastfed and exposed to childhood infections may reduce a person’s risk.

The main ALL treatment is chemotherapy. Patients may also have radiotherapy, steroids or bone marrow transplants.

Source: Cancer Research UK 

‘Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts to all of you out there who have registered, supported and continued to spread the word for our beautiful boy and those in need of wonderous bone marrow cells,’ Miss Saxelby wrote.

‘We could never have done this without you all!!’ 

Mr Lee added: ‘I cannot tell you how ecstatic I am.

‘I don’t think any news has ever made us so happy in our entire lives.

‘We know this is the beginning of yet another tough journey but we will beat this together and get him home where he belongs, living the life he absolutely deserves.

‘Bear we are all behind you my darling.’

A record-breaking 4,855 people queued for hours in the rain to get tested after Oscar’s headteacher Sarah Keating held an open day at Pitmaston Primary School in Worcester. 

Would-be donors came from as far afield as Wales, Shropshire and Bath.  

Later, around 1,000 people went to the Guildhall in Worcester to be tested. 

And hundreds more turned up at the city’s university. 

DKMS, the charity that tested the swabs, claims its previous record for the number taking part in a single registration event is 2,200 people.

A series of other events saw more than 10,000 people volunteer to get tested.

Last week, Oscar’s parents had more good news when doctors confirmed the chemotherapy was reducing his cancer cells. 

This is after the youngster was forced to endure a fourth round of the treatment when the first three cycles had no effect.

Oscar – pictured before he became ill – was diagnosed with leukaemia on December 28 after his parents noticed bruising on his legs. He was also unusually exhausted over Christmas

The youngster – pictured in hospital with his parents – was forced to endure four rounds of chemotherapy after the first three cycles had no effect. His cancerous cells are now reducing, putting Oscar in a better position to receive a stem-cell transplant

Oscar’s parents – who are childhood sweethearts – had just finished decorating their new house when their son was given the devastating diagnosis.

Miss Saxelby noticed her usually energetic son was lethargic and lost his appetite.

‘Normally, he’d be running round, causing havoc, being a little monkey,’ she said. 

‘But all he wanted to do was rest on the sofa. 

‘When he opened his presents at Christmas, he was really happy. 

‘But he just lay on the sofa all afternoon and didn’t want dinner. 

‘He played a foam dart game with his uncle, but when a sponge arrow hit him in the face, a huge bruise came up immediately.’ 

Miss Saxelby’s mother, Sarah, an NHS clinical commissioner, and sister, Jocelyn, 21, a medical student, feared Oscar may be anaemic and advised she consult his GP immediately. 

A Google search of his symptoms made Miss Saxelby – who was three months into an undergraduate degree at the University of Worcester at the time – nervous he may have leukeumia, however, the GP reassured her it was highly unlikely.

But results of the blood tests later that day revealed the former teaching assistant’s worse fear was a reality. 

Oscar was immediately rushed to hospital, where he underwent a blood transfusion. 

He later started chemotherapy, which caused him to lose his hair and mobility in his legs, leaving the youngster dependent on a walking frame. 

Oscar’s depleted immune system also meant he had to be kept in isolation after he caught flu from another patient. 

Pictured as a family before the ordeal, his parents are ‘over the moon’ a match has been found

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