Cookstown family make urgent appeal for bone marrow donors

Charlie Craig who needs a bone marrow transplant
Charlie Craig who needs a bone marrow transplant

Two year-old Charlie Craig has a rare form of cancer, which requires immediate chemotherapy and a life-saving bone marrow transplant.

Charlie, whose mum Cliodhna Craig is from Cookstown, has been battling Acute Myeloid Leukaemia since January 2013. The aggressive disease is especially rare in children and requires specialist treatment.

After completing an initial six month course of treatment at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Charlie was declared as being in remission. Unfortunately, earlier this year, routine blood tests indicated that the disease had returned. He now requires intensive chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.

Doctors have told Charlie’s parents that he should prepare for ‘the fight of his life’, but they note that members of the public can help make a difference. The cure for cancer can be as simple as donating blood, bone marrow or stem cells.

The specialist team requires a public donation to save the young boy’s life. To help Charlie and other children like him, the Craig family are appealing to members of the public, aged between 16 and 30, who are generally fit and healthy, to please come forward for immediate testing to identify if they could be a potential life-saving match.

Cliodhna Craig, Charlie’s mother told the MAIL: “We’re appealing to the public to donate, not only for our son, but for the thousands of other children like him, who require a bone marrow transplant. I’m proud of Charlie for his efforts to help promote the recruitment drive; encouraging people throughout the wider community to donate bone marrow and blood, which is vitally important to save countless lives. The cure for cancer is in the public’s hands.”

Charlie’s family are hosting a donation day in Cookstown on March 22nd. The venue will be Holy Trinity College and the family would like to encourage as many people as possible to come along, you never know, you could save a life.

Cookstown man and star of BBC’s The Apprentice Jim Eastwood, who is Charlie’s uncle is urging people to do the test for bone marrow.

Jim told the MAIL: “Unfortunately cancer or ‘the big C’ seems to affect lots of families and lots of communities, and when it came into Charlie’s life, a wee boy, a wee baby, it was devastating for everyone obviously especially my sister Clidohna and her husband Fintan.

“Although bone marrow sounds like a pretty invasive procedure it is actually quite a low level test that anyone can perform and there are home kits you can order online. The database for bone marrow is global, so if you do it, your match may not go directly to someone close to you, but just thinking of a two year old getting that, the most beautiful boy, the most intelligent wee fella, is amazing.

“I have two kids, a two year old and one year old and one on the way, not only is it family, not only is it Charlie who we dearly love, but people should stop and think. It is devastating and everyone has their challenges these days, but a wee two year old that we can do something to help, we want to call on people to go on to these websites and see if they meet the criteria and are able to donate bone marrow.”

Praising his sister and her husband’s faith and commitment, Jim said: “The resilience of Charlie, Cliondha and Fintan, their unwavering faith and commitment towards a positive outcome, it is so admirable. I admire Cliodhna and Fintan so much and their resilience and their commitment to ultimately conquer this.

“I constantly look for things that have immeasurable impact, a return on investment and this gives people the opportunity to do something positive that is measurable, and they have an opportunity to be a real life hero.”

If you cannot make it to the testing day in Cookstown on March 22nd, you can go online either to (those aged 16-30) or (those aged 16-55) to complete the application form. If eligible, potential donors will receive a ‘spit kit’ in the post.