Stranger’s blood donation gave young Rogate boy extra ten months with his family

A grieving mum from Rogate has spoken of her eternal gratitude to a stranger, whose act of ‘incredible kindness’ gave her another ten months with her son.

Tuesday, 4th August 2020, 10:30 am
Ben Walker, described as funny, witty and strong willed by his family, died just six days after his 12th birthday last August, a year after he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia  a rare but aggressive type of blood cancer. SUS-200408-101811001
Ben Walker, described as funny, witty and strong willed by his family, died just six days after his 12th birthday last August, a year after he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia  a rare but aggressive type of blood cancer. SUS-200408-101811001

Ben Walker, described as ‘funny, witty and strong willed’ by his family, died just six days after his 12th birthday last August, a year after he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia — a rare but aggressive type of blood cancer.

Ben, who would have turned 13 today (August 4), faced his experience with ‘wit and courage’.

That’s according to his family, who also praised an anonymous stranger, who donated their blood stem cells in an attempt to help give the young boy a second chance of life.

Ben Walker, described as ‘funny, witty and strong willed’ by his family, died just six days after his 12th birthday last August, a year after he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia — a rare but aggressive type of blood cancer. SUS-200408-101759001

The selfless act meant Ben could spend ten extra months with his mum Ginny, dad James, and sisters Ella, 14, and Rose, ten.

Ginny, 47, said: “Shortly after Ben’s blood stem cell transplant, we were invited to write a ‘thank you’ card to his donor, which we duly did.

“We don’t know much about her, because the process is anonymous and you only find out details after two years.

“The fact is we remain so eternally grateful, because this person made a commitment in life to try and save our son and we were afforded time; time we wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for her gesture of incredible kindness. To us, she will always be a very special person in our family, because she gave us all hope.”

Ben’s family are now urging people aged between 17 and 55 and in general good health to register as a potential blood stem cell donor at dkms.org.uk

“What have you got to lose?” Ginny said. “Joining the register with DKMS is the greatest gift you could offer to a family in need, at no detriment to yourself.

“The process of donating stem cells is very straightforward in most cases, and not painful.

“It’s similar to giving blood. It’s really nothing to be scared of.

“You could give a family time, allow them to make memories.

“You can potentially help save a life with your beautiful stem cells.”

Recalling the experience of being a parent on a child cancer ward, Ginny talked about a connection between families and finding moments of light even in the darkest of times.

She said: “James and I felt like we were rabbits in headlights, yet every parent on the ward were so welcoming and understanding.

“These families had all been where we were and as hard as it was, there was always a feeling of hope on every ward we were on.

“Being told that our son had cancer was the most unreal and frightening experience. Nothing prepares you.

“Anyone who has seen a child go through cancer knows it’s one of the toughest experiences life can ever throw at you because you cannot protect your child, which is your job as a parent.”

Ginny has since undertaken a number of fundraising activities for DKMS, the blood cancer charity which supported the family.

In the last year, the Walker family have launched a podcast to help other families dealing with childhood cancer, and are soon to publish a book of memoirs to share Ben’s story, named ‘Family of Five’.

Ginny explained: “As a family, we felt we needed to do something positive in Ben’s name after he died. Something that would also keep us distracted in our grief.

“Ben always said he would be the best teenager he could be for me, and this year he would have turned thirteen.

“In the few days before he died, he said he would look down on all the statues built in his name. So we will celebrate Ben’s birthday each year to remember our beautiful boy and do something really special in his memory.”

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