A BRAVE bone marrow donor is set to jet across the world to meet the little boy whose life he saved.
When Barry Crackett saw an appeal for donors to help a young girl in January 2002, he had no hesitation in stepping forward.
He registered with the Anthony Nolan Trust, which matches bone marrow donors to blood cancer patients in need of a transplant, but heard nothing more.
Eight years went by and Mr Crackett never gave it another thought, but one day he got a phone call out of the blue to say he was a possible match. He went for tests and the news was confirmed.
“It all started with an appeal on television for a young girl who needed a bone marrow donor. I thought ‘I can do something about that’ so I put my name forward and that was it,” he said.
“Two years later, it turned out that I was a match for a young boy, but I knew nothing about him.
“I started to get a bit nervous and a lot of my friends were asking what I was doing it for, but everyone was supportive — my boss, my wife and my family.
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“Before I went through with it I was told I could pull out, but there was a good chance the boy wouldn’t survive. At that point I tried to stay away from people with colds and look after myself because it wasn’t just my life I was responsible for, it was this little boy’s life as well.”
Mr Crackett, 34, who lives in Widdrington Station, travelled to London for the procedure in November 2010.
“I was just in hospital for a day and night, it was a very small operation,” he said.
“There is a misconception about how painful it is. I have probably had a worse cold. I still have a couple of scars on my back and I was a bit tired for a couple of weeks, but that’s nothing to save somebody’s life.”
The Anthony Nolan Trust stayed in touch with Mr Crackett after the donation, but it was six months before he was told that the young recipient had survived.
And it was in December last year that the designer, who works at BrushTec in Throckley, was told that the boy’s family would like to meet him — at their home in Los Angeles.
“I got a phone call from the trust asking if I wanted to meet the boy’s family and I thought that was great. Then they dropped the bombshell that they live in LA and the American charity would like to pay for me to go out to see them. It was unbelievable,” said Mr Crackett.
The invitation was to attend an event for donors and recipients on May 10, and the boy’s family sent a letter saying how much they were looking forward to the visit, but it was uncertain whether the Northumberland family could fly out as Mr Crackett’s wife Jessica was due to give birth in April. However, little Sol arrived on April 2, in plenty of time for the celebration.
“When I got the letter from the boy’s family we were in hospital because my son had just been born” said Mr Crackett.
“I was a young single lad when I signed the register, now I am a married man with a son and it really hit home. Obviously, I was happy that I had saved this little lad’s life, but being a dad now I understand what his parents must have been going through.”
Mr Crackett still does not know the name of the boy he saved, but he is looking forward to finding out in the next few weeks.
And he has urged others to follow his lead and sign up as a donor.
“Just do it,” he said.
“I’m not a policeman or a fireman or anything special, I’m just an average bloke and I have saved somebody’s life. I would never have got to do that and it was so easy.”
In their letter to Mr Crackett, the boy’s family have told him the seven-year-old has made a full recovery, and has even completed a 5km run for a cancer charity.
They said: “Words will never be enough to describe the gratitude that we have for what you did for our family. You gave our young son a second chance at life when it seemed that all his options had run out.
“Because of your actions, our little boy is healthy and happy, and alive. He is here enjoying life and we are enjoying every minute of each day, watching him grow and get healthier and stronger.”