Chorley man who saved life as stem cell donor urges others to help his friend find a match after five-year search

A Chorley man who donated his blood stem cells which helped save the life of a stranger is urging others to do the same in the hope of finding his friend, who has been waiting five years, a match.

By Emma Downey
Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 3:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 4:24 pm

Alex Christopher, 34, who lives in Brinscall, donated his cells over three years ago when he signed on the donor register in a bid to help his friend and colleague Peter McCleave, 40.

He might not have been a match for his friend, but for Patrick Languzzi who lives in Boston, Massachusetts, in America, Alex proved to be a life-saver.

Patrick had been diagnosed with a rare blood cancer and given a three per cent chance of survival.

Alex and Patrick meeting for the first time at the airport

In January this year the pair met for the first time over a Zoom call where Alex told Patrick of his friend's plight and both gents made a pact to help gain more donors.

Peter, who was diagnosed with myeloma in 2017 and told that he has seven years to find a match for a lifesaving stem cell donation, set up a campaign to collect an initial 10,000 donors and is now targeting 100,000.

Why did Alex sign up?

Alex, who works for the investment arm of Natwest, said: "I signed up on a whim to help my friend Peter but sadly I was not a match.

Alex and Patrick at the DKMS London Gala at the Roundhouse on May 12

"Peter is still looking for his match as a lot of people think 'it won't be me' and I held the same mindset until it was.

"You have the power to change an individual's life and not just theirs but also their family and friends.

"I have seen first hand the effect it has had on Patrick's friends.

"I was a 100 per cent match for Patrick and someone that maybe hasn't registered could be the same for Peter."

From left: Jack from DKMS, Peter, Patrick and Alex

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Although it was sad circumstances that brought him Alex on his journey, the father of one said all three men have formed a group chat and speak all the time.

"We attended the DKMS London Gala in May together and raised £1.5 million,” said the former Lancaster Royal Grammar School pupil from Morecambe.

"It was very strange with models and influencers and some pledging £10,000."

What does Alex say to people afraid to sign up?

Alex explains he did not have to undergo any painful or invasive procedures - his stem cells were extracted from blood taken intravenously at a private clinic in London, then the blood was returned to him, equating to three hours and 45 minutes.

"I would say to people just do it as the more people who sign up the better the odds are for the people waiting on their matches.

"It is so straight forward and easy."

Speaking highly of Peter, Alex added that even though he has been waiting a long time for his genetic twin to come along as he has a very specific DNA composite.

"For him to get a match would be a nice end, but he wouldn't stop going as he would want to continue helping others.”

How can you sign up to be a stem donor?

DKMS is a blood cancer charity based in London that registers blood stem donors. Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer and for many a blood stem donation is their best chance of survival.

If you would like to register you can do so by visiting Peter's website HERE. Alternatively, you can visit the DKMS website.