Thousands sign up to stem cell register at Stratford open day

Tommy Simpson

Tommy Simpson - Credit:

Nearly 5,000 people registered as stem cell donors during an open day at Stratford fire station to help find a match for a four-year-old boy battling leukaemia .

A prospective donor signs up

A prospective donor signs up - Credit: Archant

Tommy Simpson has less than a 20 per cent chance of finding a suitable donor because he is of mixed race.

As the son of white British firefighter Nigel Simpson, 48, who is based at Stratford station, and black Caribbean events manager Maxine Francis, 45, Tommy faces a struggle to find a donor – which cannot be either of his parents – to save his life.

On Saturday, Stratford fire station, Romford Road, held a donor drive event and 385 people registered as stem cells donors and gave a cheek swab to determine whether they could be a suitable match.

The new donors will be notified within four to five weeks if they can help Tommy, from Barkingside.

Tommy Simpson, 4, who has leukaemia

Tommy Simpson, 4, who has leukaemia - Credit: Nigel Simpson and Maxine Francis

Firefighters at Ilford fire station, London Ambulance and the police also attended the event to show their support for the appeal and a total of £700 was raised for the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT).

Ronke Ake, from the ACLT, said: “The community really came together and it was a really good day.”

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James Megeath, from Stratford fire station, said the day was “excellent” and the station welcomed the level of engagement from the local community.

Tommy’s mum Maxine told the Recorder the four-year-old was still receiving chemotherapy treatment and his family is focusing on “keeping him well and feeling good” to prevent any infections at a time where his immune system is low.

A prospective donor signs up

A prospective donor signs up - Credit: Archant

Although no match have yet been found, she added the response to the appeal has so far been “phenomenal” and she thanked the ACLT and the London Fire Brigade for their help.

“We are hopeful we will continue to register people in large numbers so a match can be found. We know there is a match for Tommy out there, the individual just hasn’t registered yet.

“Until we receive that a call to say a match has been found, we will continue to push Tommy’s campaign for him and for the many others who are also in desperate need of a lifesaving stem cell transplant,” she said.

You can follow the London Fire Brigade’s campaign #Match4Tommy or to become a stem cell donor, you can register on or call the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust on 020 3757 7700.