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27/09/2021

Rugby club’s plea for stem cell donors who could save player’s life

A Magherafelt rugby club is calling on young people to become stem cell donors in a bid to help save a player’s life. Rainey Old Boys Rugby Football Club have launched the campaign to help one of its under 16 players, Ozzie Rogers, from Knockloughrim, who was recently diagnosed with Leukaemia. In an effort to help Ozzie, and others who are currently suffering, the south Derry club is now trying to raise awareness of the stem cell register, which allows donors of the correct tissue types to be matched with patients who need stem cell transplants. The club has partnered with the Anthony Nolan organisation and Belfast Marrow to host a donor session tomorrow, Saturday, December 15 in Magherafelt. Ozzie, a student at Magherafelt High School, recently underwent his first round of chemotherapy treatment which, unfortunately, was not successful. Heather Thompson from Rainey Old Boys RFC said popular Ozzie’s diagnosis had come as a ‘major shock’ to his teammates and their families. “At the start of the season Ozzie was out training but then he went off sick with what we thought was glandular fever but what turned out to be leukaemia.  The diagnosis came as a major shock to everyone,” said Heather. “Ozzie recently went through his first dose of chemotherapy but it was unsuccessful. “If he can get a donor match, he is going for a bone marrow transplant but the stage before that is stem cell so that is why we have decided to have the event this weekend.” Heather is appealing for people aged 16 to 30, who are over eight stone, to attend the event which is being held at the club between 11am and 3pm. The youth and senior teams will also be playing matches on the day. “Basically, it’s a very simple procedure.  People will be asked to swab their cheek using a cotton bud and they will be agreeing for their details to be held on the stem cell register for life.  If a match is found, the Anthony Nolan Trust will call on that person to come forward and give a blood donation. “We hope the event will also raise awareness of the stem cell donor register.” Heather says Rainey Old Boys are keen to find a match for Ozzie who joined the club two years ago. “His team mates are devastated.  The news that Ozzie has leukaemia came as a shock, not only to the players, but also to their families who are standing pitch side at every game,” she said. “As a rugby club, this is our way of trying to add our support and show Ozzie’s family that we are with them and supporting them every step of the way.” Appealing for young people to come out and sign up to the stem cell register, Heather added: “It will literally take a couple of minutes, it doesn’t cost you anything and you could potentially end up saving someone’s life. “This is the season of goodwill and giving so I would please encourage people to give up a couple of minutes of their time.” If you are unable to make this Saturday’s event, you can sign up online via anthonynolan.org/join  

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