Leukathon 2022 funding BMT research

November 29, 2022
Inspiring Stories
The Sydney Leukathon team 2022

“It’s what mates do.”

That’s what Cameron Haynes says of his involvement in the Leukathon, a gruelling long-distance challenge that raises funds for bone marrow transplant (BMT) research. “We were reeling from the news about Luke, and we wanted to do something to help.”

Luke (Chappo) Chapman was a fit and healthy young man, “a sporty type,” according to Cameron. Yeah, he’d had a few niggles, and sometimes felt a bit under par, but don’t we all from time to time? It wasn’t until one day when he was noticeably out of breath from walking up the stairs in his London home that he decided to go to the doctor.  Chappo received a Leukaemia diagnosis and was undergoing treatment in a matter of days.

Being thrust so quickly into the world of appointments, scans, and tests made Luke and his mates aware of how much there is left to learn about Leukaemia. Luke’s mates Cameron and Sean decided to set themselves a grueling challenge with a run, swim and paddle in Sydney. They put themselves through some small amount of pain in solidarity with their friend who was no stranger to pain during his cancer treatments. The Leukathon was born.

Luke’s treatment involved a stem cell transplant, and he was fortunate enough to find a matching donor in his sister. Not all people needing a transplant are that lucky though, and some cannot find a suitable match at all. So when he heard of the work being undertaken by Dr John Moore and his team at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney investigating a way to better utilise stem cells where the match between donor and patient is less than ideal (haploidentical stem cell transplants), Luke was keen to help.

The Leukathon team set their sights on raising $120,000 over the next 3 years to fund this haploidential medical research project. They smashed it out of the park raising over $105,000 in the first year. With just $15,000 left to meet their target, the Leukathon team successfully raised the remaining amount for the project this year, one year ahead of target!

Dr John Moore from St Vincent’s Hospital says he is grateful to Arrow and the donors. The project has received ethics approval, and clinical trials will commence within the next few months.  The trial will include 10 transplant centres from across Australia and New Zealand, and possibly even Canada.

Cameron says, “Luke’s cancer has highlighted the need for ongoing research. We’re glad to have been able to contribute in this way. But giving money isn’t the only way you can help. Luke has been amazed by the number of blood transfusions he’s had during his treatment, so we encourage people to give blood if they can, too.”

And if you’re between 18 and 35 years of age in Australia, you might also be able to donate stem cells. You can find out more about that process here.

And what of Luke?
Luke is thriving after his transplant! He even participated in the Leukathon himself over the last two years, swimming the Hampstead Ponds and then riding his bike from London to Paris in 2021, and this year completing a trek to the top of Pen Y Fan in Wales to see the sunrise before cycling back to London.

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